Questions for David Bossie
The president of Citizens United explains how he became a conservative.
How'd you become a conservative?
I had my formative teenage years during Jimmy Carter's presidency. If there's anything that can get a person to focus on the good things that represent America, it's living through that. We had two cars, one with an odd license plate and one with even license plate. Whichever car needed gas that day, I'd get a screwdriver, get down there, and switch the license plates. When I got to vote for the first time, I had to choose a party, and I said, "I want to be in whatever party Ronald Reagan is in."
How did the Citizens United lawsuit start?
I'd been a longtime opponent of McCain-Feingold. Truth be told, I tried to get folks to listen to our ideas—we had specific ideas for how to defeat it. We joined the lawsuit against it. Unfortunately we lost. But once 2004 came and went, and I saw what Michael Moore did with Fahrenheit 9/11, I said, well, why can he do it and we can't? If Hollywood can do this, there's no exemption for them—we can do it, too.
Was the intention always to create something that could turn into a legal case?
It was 100 percent calculated toward fighting the FEC. We sued them, remember. I took the fight to them. I thought they had wrongly decided to tell me it would be a willful violation of the law if we showed Hillary: The Movie, and willful violations are criminal, not civil. I was not going to be looking over my shoulder for them, which is why we decided to take the argument to Supreme Court.
Are you happy with what's happened since then—the Super PACs, the flood of new undisclosed money?
Clearly McCain-Feingold was a hindrance on every American's freedom of speech. After our victory and what happened this last November, I don't have to wonder why they attack us so much. It was a liberal incumbent's worst nightmare. The American people got to hear more information, not less, and the American people are incredibly smart. I for one am glad that our victory shed light on that and I think the new freshman class in Congress would agree.
David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at email@example.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.