August 30, 2012
David Bossie is not a household name, nor is he a particularly recognizable figure. However, it is David Bossie — and the United States Supreme Court — that the Republican Party, and it’s billionaire funders and supporters, have to thank for allowing them the opportunity to flood Election 2012 with vast amounts of undisclosed money.
On several occasions over the years, I’ve written about Bossie. Thanks to Esquire’s brilliant Charles P. Pierce, I was reminded that Bossie’s scattershot approach to politics, which had played a nagging role in the body politic for years, had inadvertently hit the big time with the Citizens United case.
It was Bossie’s Citizens United that was the protagonist in the historic Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
In January 2010, The Nation editorialized: “The Citizens United campaign finance decision by … a Supreme Court majority of conservative judicial activists is a dramatic assault on American democracy, overturning more than a century of precedent in order to give corporations the ultimate authority over elections and governing. This decision tips the balance against active citizenship and the rule of law by making it possible for the nation’s most powerful economic interests to manipulate not just individual politicians and electoral contests but political discourse itself. “
The story leading up to the case going to the Supreme Court goes like this:
In 2007, Citizens United was gearing up for what it was certain would be Hillary Clinton’s historic run for the presidency atop the Democratic Party’s ticket.
For years, CU’s toolbox had been filled with an assortment of material — misinformation, disinformation, and egregious lies — used to attack both President Clinton and Hillary. Now CU was attempting to marshal the resources for the mother of all anti-Hillary hit pieces.
Bossie, president and Chairman of the Board of Citizens United, acknowledged that he was inspired by the success of Michael Moore’s films, saying that he “… saw the impact Moore was having. … [and] realized the long-form documentary could be a powerful tool to deliver a political message.”
Bossie and his partner, the veteran Swift Boater, Floyd Brown, came up with the idea of making a full-length documentary film about Hillary. The film would be so powerful that it would stop her in her tracks; revealing all the secrets about her sordid past that the American public either had forgotten or did not know.
The movie, titled Hillary: The Movie, was set to “explode onto the scene!” Citizens United’s web site proclaimed. Produced by Bossie, the author of the “Hillary: The Politics of Personal Destruction,” the film contained more than 40 interviews “with experts, opinion makers, and many of the people who personally locked horns with the Clintons.”
Citizens United prepared several short ads for the film that were set to run on television as political advertisements.
According to Esquire’s Pierce, the “film about Hillary Clinton … was pretty much as spurious as most of the work [Bossie had] done in his entire career, and a court ruled that the advertising for the film violated existing campaign laws about ‘electioneering’ within 30 days of a primary. In 2004, Bossie and Citizens United had sued on precisely those grounds, arguing that ads for Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 violated the same laws. He had lost that case. In the interim, he recast his organization as a legitimate filmmaking operation and so, when a lower court ruled against him, he was ready with the argument that convinced Kennedy and four of his brethren.”
Bossie’s checkered past
Before Citizens United, Bossie was national youth director in Senator Robert Dole’s 1988 presidential campaign. Four years later, he became the executive director of Floyd Brown’s Presidential Victory Committee, a political action committee that produced an ad and a 1-800 number with recordings of Gennifer Flowers’ alleged conversations with Bill Clinton.
Bossie made his reputation as a fiercely anti-Clinton partisan and provocateur. In addition to the conservative media swallowing his anti-Clinton news releases, the Columbia Journalism Review reported that The New York Times often printed “verbatim” opposition research provided by Bossie, without identifying its sources. .
In May 1994, Trudy Lieberman, a senior editor at Consumer Reports described Bossie as a twenty-eight-year-old political director for Citizens United, who “runs an information factory whose Whitewater production lines turn out a steady stream of tips, tidbits, documents, factoids, suspicions, and story ideas for the nation’s press and for Republicans on Capitol Hill. Journalists and Hill Republicans have recycled much of the information provided by Citizens United into stories that have cast a shadow on the Clinton presidency.”
Bossie was hired as chief investigator for the Whitewater hearings held by North Carolina’s Republican Senator Lauch Faircloth, and was an investigator for Representative Dan Burton (R-IN), the chairman of the House investigation into alleged Clinton campaign finance abuses.
Media Matters for America reported that Bossie “was fired [at the behest of then House Speaker Newt Gingrich] in 1998 from his job as chief investigator for the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight … for his role in releasing selectively edited transcripts of former Clinton administration official Webster Hubbell’s prison conversations.”
Bossie is also the author of a number of books attacking Democrats including “Prince Albert: The Life and Lies of Al Gore (2000), “Intelligence Failure: How Clinton’s National Security Policy Set the Stage for 9/11″ (2004), and “The Many Faces of John Kerry: Why This Massachusetts Liberal Is Wrong For America” (2004).
In 2008, Bossie, who along with Floyd Brown promoted the Obama-Bill Ayers connection, told Time magazine that he was “assembling material for TV spots about Obama’s ties with [Bill] Ayers, a Chicago professor and unrepentant former member of the Weather Underground, a group that bombed several government buildings to protest the Vietnam War.”
David Bossie’s imprint is likely to be stamped on future U.S. elections. And now, according to Esquire’s Pierce, David Bossie, “the most important man at [the GOP’s] convention” is Tampa’s toast of the town.