Citizens United is a conservative activist group with a long history of promoting discredited smears and attacks. Along with fellow right-wing group Judicial Watch, they have been one of the driving forces behind the mainstream media narrative about Hillary Clinton's emails.
A Media Matters survey of media coverage of the email story in the Nexis database found that Citizens United has been cited or quoted in reports about Clinton's use of private email in multiple major outlets, including ABC News, Fox News, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
Just last week, The Wall Street Journal based an October 15 story on emails parceled out to the newspaper by Citizens United, in a continuation of a pattern utilized by the organization and its leader David Bossie of selectively leaking partial information to news outlets in order to attack Democrats. The story later made the leap to Fox News.
The emails, which show Clinton aides experienced occasional IT problems when working with Clinton's private server (similar to many agencies, organizations, and businesses), are described by Bossie in the Journal story as "another troubling revelation." Bossie has also been calling for a "special counsel" to investigate the emails.
This is the type of scandal-mongering that Citizens United has done for years in order to further conservative crusades against prominent progressives. Bossie himself has been targeting the Clintons for more than two decades. In 1998, he was fired from a job with the House Oversight Committee for his role in releasing selectively-edited transcripts that smeared Hillary Clinton.
Citizens United has been pushing for the release of Clinton communications from the State Department, and is a party in several lawsuits demanding Clinton-related materials from the agency. In the course of those requests, Citizens United has often insinuated -- without evidence -- that wrongdoing took place. Citizens United President David Bossie told Politico after a recent hearing, "If it weren't for our FOIAs and subsequent lawsuits, these records would remain exactly where Hillary Clinton wants them -- in the shadows."
One set of emails released to Citizens United and then doled out to mainstream news organizations supposedly revealed a "tangled web" between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation, Bossie told the Washington Post. In fact, the emails mostly showed mundane communications amongst Clinton's team, including arrangements to organize a dinner.
Citizens United was created in 1988 by conservative activist Floyd Brown. Early on, the organization ran political campaigns promoting the Supreme Court nomination of Clarence Thomas, as well as campaigns against Democratic presidential candidates like Michael Dukakis and Bill Clinton.
Brown was behind the infamous race-baiting Willie Horton political ad that was used to attack Dukakis in the 1988 presidential campaign. He was chairman of Citizens United until 2006, a position former congressional investigator and anti-Clinton activist David Bossie now holds.
Since leaving Citizens United, Brown has promoted the birther conspiracy that President Obama was not born in the United States, and demanded his removal from the White House for trying to construct a "totalitarian regime." Brown also ran political attack ads falsely claiming that President Obama is Muslim.
In 2008, Citizens United produced an anti-Clinton film called Hillary: The Movie. After the group was barred from advertising the film due to its political content and possible influence on the election, the resulting 2010 Supreme Court case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, opened the floodgate of money now influencing elections.
In addition to Hillary: The Movie, the organization has produced films attacking the left and promoting the right. These include Occupy Unmasked, Battle for America with Dick Morris, and Hype: The Obama Effect.
Citizens United also has an affiliated political action committee, Citizens United Political Victory Fund, that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars between 2006 and 2014 to support Republican candidates and attack Democrats. They also have a super PAC, Citizens United Super PAC, which has already spent $128,199 so far in the 2016 election cycle.
CBS reported in 1992 that as part of an "unusually brazen dirty-tricks operation," Brown sent his agents, including David Bossie, to prove a conspiracy theory that a woman named Susann Coleman had committed suicide after an affair with Bill Clinton. In order to do so, Bossie followed Coleman's mother to an Army hospital in Georgia, where she was visiting her husband who was recovering from a stroke. CBS said, according to a Nexis transcript, that Bossie and an accomplice "burst into the sick man's room and began questioning the shaken mother about her daughter's suicide." (The operation was not technically on behalf of Citizens United -- Brown at the time was heading a group called the "Presidential Victory Committee.")
Brown also called Coleman's sister and harassed her about the affair. The calls were recorded. On the tape, Brown told her, "If there's any truth to this proposed story, I want to be very private. I want to basically have my lawyers approach Clinton's lawyers and tell him that we want him out of the race because he's not morally qualified to be president."
CBS said that George H.W. Bush's re-election campaign "disclaims any connection with Floyd Brown and describes his anti-Clinton tactics as despicable."
Bossie has served as the president of Citizens United since 2000 (and chairman since 2006). Before that, he was chief investigator for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a position he was fired from for releasing selectively-edited transcripts of interviews with former Clinton administration official Webster Hubbell in order to leave the false impression that then-first lady Hillary Clinton was involved in wrongdoing.
At the time, then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich told Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), the chairman of the committee, "I'm embarrassed for you, I'm embarrassed for myself, and I'm embarrassed for the [House Republican] conference at the circus that went on at your committee." (The Washington Post reported at the time, "While Burton defended his senior investigator publicly and said Bossie was leaving of his own accord, Gingrich told the conference yesterday that Bossie, who had survived repeated previous attempts, had been fired.")
During the 1992 Clinton-Bush election, Bossie was involved in the production of a campaign ad featuring apparently doctored tape-recorded conversations, which was then repudiated by George W. Bush on behalf of his father, President George H.W. Bush. The younger Bush reportedly "even sent out a letter to 85,000 Republican contributors encouraging them not to contribute to" Bossie's campaign effort.
Bossie kept up his behavior at Citizens United, coordinating a campaign of leaks and misinformation designed to hurt the Clinton administration and the first lady:
Bossie, the twenty-eight-year-old political director for Citizens United, a conservative Republican operation, 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.
A 1994 Chicago Tribune profile reported that Bossie was part of the campaign to use the Whitewater controversy to attack President Bill Clinton, pointing out that he "harvests tales of alleged wrongdoings from a network of Clinton enemies, then peddles them to Capitol Hill and media contacts in hopes of prompting scandalous stories."
Bossie is still doing the same, but now he's on the Clinton-email beat.
Controversial filmmaker and Republican operative David Bossie accompanied Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) when the senator took several reporters to watch him perform surgery in Central America. Bossie's past work, which includes deliberately doctoring evidence to smear the Clintons, has been denounced by fellow Republicans, including Newt Gingrich and former President George H. W. Bush.
According to The Washington Post, Paul visited Guatemala this week to spend some time practicing medicine again (Paul is an ophthalmologist), but the presence on the trip of Citizen's United President David Bossie "cast aside any doubt that the trip was merely an opportunity for the senator to reconnect with his medical roots":
Bossie is the [president] of Citizens United, the group whose lawsuit led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that corporations and labor unions can spend unlimited funds on direct advocacy for or against political candidates. A documentary filmmaker who has shadowed Paul before, he traveled here with his daughter and a film crew equipped with lights, cameras and an unmanned aerial drone for overhead shots. Bossie said little about his plans, other than that his footage would appear in a film either about Paul or an issue of importance to him.
Paul's association with Bossie links him to the operative's shady past. In 1998, Bossie was fired from his job as chief investigator for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform -- which was investigating alleged Clinton White House finance abuses -- because he released selectively edited transcripts that gave the false impression that then-first lady Hillary Clinton had been implicated in wrongdoing. The full comments revealed that Clinton had done nothing wrong. The Washington Post reported in a May 1998 article that then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) told the chairman of the committee upon Bossie's removal, "I'm embarrassed for you, I'm embarrassed for myself, and I'm embarrassed for the [House Republican] conference at the circus that went on at your committee."
Bossie's shady tactics go back even further. In 1992, during the Clinton-Bush presidential race, he was repudiated by George H.W. Bush, who filed an FEC complaint against Bossie's group after it produced a TV ad inviting voters to call a hot line to hear almost certainly doctored tape-recorded conversations. George W. Bush, on his father's behalf, "even sent out a letter to 85,000 Republican contributors encouraging them not to contribute to" Bossie's campaign effort.
Bossie was also reportedly behind the notorious "melon-shooting, staged re-enactment of the death of White House Deputy Counsel Vincent W. Foster Jr.," in which then-GOP congressman Dan Burton was widely ridiculed for shooting a melon in his backyard ostensibly to prove that Foster had been murdered, despite reports showing Foster had committed suicide.
This is not the first time Bossie has promoted Paul. In a March 2013 Hill article, Bossie was quoted as praising Paul's filibuster over drone policy, saying "These are the types of events that make you a player, so that in three years you've laid the groundwork and [it's] not just assumed you're going to be a fringe Libertarian and Tea Party-only candidate." Later in the piece, Bossie suggested that Paul could be "taken seriously by establishment Republicans":
Bossie said GOP voters who crave a leader who stands on principle -- and who often questioned Romney's conservative bonafides -- are more likely to view Paul as one of their own.
"Post the 2012 general election debacle, with a nominee who was not a conservative and who lost a race that was winnable ... the Republican institutional voters, as well as the conservative movement within the Republican Party, are desperately looking for principled leadership," said Bossie.
"That is something that has been lacking, and that's where his filibuster will make him stand out."
Bossie noted Paul has already taken "methodical" steps to differentiate himself from his father, "in order to be taken seriously by establishment Republicans."
Paul also attended an event in 2014 in New Hampshire called the Freedom Summit, which was co-sponsored by Bossie's Citizens United. The event was described by Politico as a "cattle call of potential Republican 2016 hopefuls," and the "unofficial start to '16 GOP primary" by the Washington Times.
Image via Gage Skidmore
CNN's Crossfire will be hosting David Bossie, the conservative activist whose smears of Hillary Clinton were so dishonest they got him fired from his job as a House Republican aide in the 1990s, to discuss whether Clinton is "ready for the spotlight."
Today, Hillary Clinton released her new biography, Hard Choices. CNN chose Bossie to debate the book and her media tour promoting it from the right on tonight's Crossfire. (Bossie will appear opposite Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden, along with regular co-hosts Newt Gingrich and Stephanie Cutter.)
In 1998, Bossie was forced to resign from his role as top investigator on the House Government and Reform Committee for his alleged role in releasing selectively edited transcripts and video of prison conversations by Clinton confidant Webster Hubbell. The transcripts and video, whose editing was overseen by Bossie, removed exculpatory statements from Hubbell that downplayed alleged wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton at their former law firm.
Bossie's actions drew bipartisan condemnation at the time, with Gingrich, then Speaker of the House, reportedly pressuring Bossie to resign and apologizing to the House Republican Conference for the events. Gingrich told then-House Government and Oversight Committee chair Dan Burton, "I'm embarrassed for you, I'm embarrassed for myself, and I'm embarrassed for the conference at the circus that went on at your committee."
Before taking a job as a House investigator, Bossie worked for Citizens United, a right-wing group that was devoted to pushing smears about Whitewater and other Clinton pseudoscandals. During the 1992 presidential campaign Bossie worked for another right-wing group that was condemned by then-President George H.W. Bush for "filthy tactics." Bush filed an FEC complaint against their group to distance his campaign from their attacks on the Clintons. His son, George W. Bush, urged the campaign's supporters not to donate to the group.
After leaving Congress Bossie returned to Citizens United, where he has been president since 2001.
Bossie previously appeared on the March 7 and May 20 editions of Crossfire.
Earlier this week Fox News hosted the "professional dirty trickster" who founded an anti-Hillary Clinton group with the acronym "C.U.N.T." The day before, it was the attorney who pushed fabricated anti-Clinton stories in the 90s. Last month, it was the woman who has suggested the Clintons may have had her husband killed.
Fox has never had particularly high standards for who they put on air, and it appears there's no source too incredible for Fox to host as long as they are willing to smear the Clintons. And that list is long.
As Joe Conason and Gene Lyons detailed in their book The Hunting of the President, in the 1990s, an array of conservative operatives, right-wing journalists, and opportunists sought to drive the Clintons from the White House. Their backgrounds were often shady, their methods deceitful, and their claims fraudulent.
So who might be the next guest for a network with no standards and an urge to stop a potential Hillary Clinton presidential run? Some of these figures have gone on to extensive careers in the conservative media, while others haven't been in the public eye for decades.
But all have literally unbelievable stories to tell.
Gary Aldrich is a former FBI agent who wrote a 1996 book about his time inside the White House during the first three years of the Clinton administration. CNN described the book, produced by a right-wing publisher and flacked by a Republican operative, as filled with "second-hand, unsubstantiated sexual rumors about and bitter attacks against President and Mrs. Clinton," including ludicrous claims that President Clinton was regularly ditching his Secret Service detail for trysts at a downtown hotel (Aldrich later said that allegation was a "hypothetical"). Aldrich also wrote that on "orders from the First Lady's Office," the White House Christmas tree was decorated with crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia as well as sex toys and condoms (unsurprisingly, the White House denied the charge).
Aldrich used the notoriety from his book to become a professional conservative. He founded the right-wing Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty in 1997 to support federal whistleblowers (Linda Tripp was among the organization's first clients), but the bulk of the group's spending soon focused on raising money and paying Aldrich's salary. The group was largely silent during the Bush administration, but re-emerged to support tea party groups in 2010. Aldrich has written op-eds for TownHall and the Daily Caller.
Larry Nichols spent years at the heart of the conservative campaign to smear President Clinton. A former jingle writer who became a marketing consultant for the State of Arkansas, he was fired from the Arkansas Development Finance Authority in 1988 for making hundreds of phone calls to Nicaragua contra leaders and their American political supporters on the taxpayer's dime, and apparently held a grudge. Shortly before Bill Clinton's 1990 re-election as governor of Arkansas, Nichols held a press conference announcing he was suing Clinton for allegedly using state funds to conduct affairs with five women. All five women subsequently signed affidavits denying the claims and threatened to sue Nichols, who later issued a statement saying he had wrongfully issued the accusations because he was mad about being fired. But the incident nonetheless ushered in the right-wing focus on Bill Clinton's sex life.
Nichols, who described himself as "smut central" in a 1998 interview, spent years tracking down sketchy rumors about women who had had affairs with the president and trying to peddle them to everyone from supermarket tabloids to major newspapers. Last year, he offered a new explanation for why he had spent years trying to destroy the Clintons -- he claimed to have "beat up women and beat up husbands to protect the Clintons" and even "killed people" for them for money until they turned on him and he had to defend himself.
From the March 7 edition of CNN's Crossfire:
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Sean Hannity hosted Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Citizens United as they used Fox News as a platform to launch a campaign targeted at ending the so-called congressional exemption to the Affordable Care Act. There's one problem: the congressional exemption does not exist.
On the November 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity, David Bossie, president of the conservative political organization Citizens United, and Vitter joined Hannity to announce a new campaign calling on Congress to "Live By Your Laws." While the segment aired, Citizens United's Twitter account encouraged its followers to "join the movement" with Bossie, Hannity, and Vitter to stop a rule within the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) that allegedly exempts members of Congress and their staffs as well as the White House from having to take part in the ACA's health insurance exchanges. Hannity introduced the segment by playing most of Citizens United's new advertisement.
Contrary to the trio's claims, the reality is that the ACA requires Congress and its staff to obtain health insurance on the exchanges and also prohibits them from receiving subsidies under the ACA. Because of this "special punishment" as The Washington Post's Ezra Klein called it, congressional staffers would be forced to cover the entire cost of their health insurance. To avoid that punishment, the Office of Personnel Management clarified that it would continue to subsidize congressional employees' health insurances costs just like most employers throughout the country do. One Republican lawmaker said of the clarification, "There's no question it was the right thing to do."
From the August 5 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight:
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David Bossie has no idea what the word "hypocrisy" means:
[I]nsiders connected to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are hatching plans to protect the tenuous Senate Democrat majority. These Reid insiders are forming a "super" political action committee, called Majority PAC, to raise unlimited money in order to go on the offensive in Senate races across the country. Reid's people are within their rights to form the PAC, thanks to the Citizens United v. FEC victory at the United States Supreme Court last year. … However, because the entire Democrat Party machinery was against this landmark decision last year, this blatant reversal reeks of hypocrisy.
No. That isn't hypocrisy. If someone said no one should form such a PAC, even if it's legal, then that person turned around and formed one, that might be considered hypocrisy. Or if David Bossie were to say "I would never distribute doctored transcripts in an effort to mislead the nation about my political opponents and you shouldn't either," after having done exactly that, he would be guilty of hypocrisy. But saying "we don't think this campaign tactic should be legal, but as long as it is, we're going to use it" isn't hypocrisy. It's merely a refusal to unilaterally disarm.
And that's what Bossie is suggesting Democrats must do in order to avoid being hypocrites: Unilaterally disarm. By Bossie's logic, campaign finance reformers should never employ legal campaign finance tactics they think should not be legal. That, of course, would severely disadvantage those reformers electorally, and thus make the prospect of reform unlikely.
Bossie's position is like saying that if a nation advocates a worldwide ban on the development of new nuclear weapons, it is a hypocrite unless it unilaterally stops developing such weapons while its enemies continue to do so. It just doesn't make any sense, and it just isn't what the word hypocrisy means.
Writing at the Daily Caller, wildly disreputable right-wing activist David Bossie issues a stern -- and stupid -- warning about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Under the headline "The Inevitability of the Draft," Bossie writes that the repeal will come to be seen as "a day of infamy for our military" because now that gay soldiers will no longer have to hide their sexual orientation, Marines are going to abandon the service in droves and the government will have to draft Americans to replace them.
Nearly forty percent of the Marines in the official Department of Defense survey said that they may leave the service early if "don't ask, don't tell" is repealed. Four out of ten! That is a staggering number that could degrade one of the most lethal fighting forces in the world. With our military already stretched to capacity with many of our warriors being asked to sign up for multiple tours of duty, how could the Democrat leadership and some Republicans take this risk? Pushing this legislation during a global war on terror is a dereliction of duty. If forty percent of our Marines do in fact leave the service early, we will have to fill those boots somehow.
And -- wouldn't you know it? -- Bossie's op-ed is paired with a slickly produced and confusingly ominous video about how gay people are to blame for you being drafted, or something. I especially like the disarmingly straightforward slogan: "Be careful what you rally for because Uncle Sam may end up drafting you."
But this is no mere gimmick intended to raise money by capitalizing on lingering fear and resentment of the gay community -- no sir! This is a "serious" issue!
This issue has not been talked about much, but is a serious unintended consequence nonetheless. Statistics indicate that retention and recruitment will be a problem if "don't ask, don't tell" is repealed. We are at war, and war is no time to take a chance with our armed forces just to appease the liberal special interests. Unbelievably, Harry Reid tweeted to Lady Gaga, "We did it," after the repeal was passed. I guess we know now that Reid is beholden to Lady Gaga and not those young Marines on the front lines protecting our freedom.
So yeah, we're all going to be drafted into the Marines because all those gay people had the nerve to demand equal treatment. In the meantime, be afraid, and donate generously to Citizens United, or else Harry Reid and Lady Gaga will conquer us all.
Citizens United president David Bossie took his false attacks on Elena Kagan to the pages of The Washington Post, writing an op-ed that distorted the Citizens United Supreme Court case to falsely paint Kagan as anti-free-speech.
From the February 23 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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