Jump to content

Citizens United (organization)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Citizens United
FormationNovember 1988; 35 years ago (1988-11)
Type501(c)(4) non-profit organization
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
President, Chairman
David Bossie

Citizens United is a conservative 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization in the United States founded in 1988. In 2010, the organization won a U.S. Supreme Court case known as Citizens United v. FEC, which struck down as unconstitutional a federal law prohibiting corporations and unions from making expenditures in connection with federal elections. The organization's president and chairman is David Bossie.[1]


Citizens United's stated mission is to restore the United States government to "citizens' control, through a combination of education, advocacy, and grass-roots organization" seeking to "reassert the traditional American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong families, and national sovereignty and security."[2] Citizens United is a conservative political advocacy group organized under Section 501(c)4 of the federal tax code, meaning that donations are not tax deductible. To fulfill this mission, Citizens United produces television commercials, web advertisements, and documentary films.[3] CU films have won film festival awards, including Perfect Valor (Best Documentary at the GI Film Festival) and Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny (Remi Award at Houston Worldfest International Festival).[citation needed]

David Bossie has been its president since 2000. In 2016 he took a leave of absence to be deputy campaign manager of Donald Trump's campaign for President of the United States.[4] Its offices are on Pennsylvania Avenue in the Capitol Hill area of Washington, D.C.

Current leadership[edit]

The current president, David Bossie, has been president since he served as the chief investigator into then President Bill Clinton's possible abuse of finances in 1997, and was later the deputy campaign manager for Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016. In 2020, he served in executive positions for President Donald Trump's and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's reelection campaigns.[2]


The political action committee Citizens United was founded in 1988 by Floyd Brown, a longtime Washington political consultant. The group promotes free enterprise, socially conservative causes and candidates who advance their mission.

Positions and advocacy[edit]

Citizens United is known for its support of conservatives in politics. The group produced a television advertisement that reveals several legislative actions taken by John McCain, which aired on Fox News Channel.[5] On October 2, 2006, in reaction to revelations of a cover-up of inappropriate communications between Republican Congressman Mark Foley and House pages, Citizens United president David Bossie called on Dennis Hastert to resign over his role in covering up the scandal.[6]

The group sued and lost a case against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over Schneiderman's demand that it disclose all its donors.[7]

In 1999, Citizens United wrote and funded a VHS tape produced by The Strategy Group on the Clinton administration's relationship with Chinese businessmen called "The Truth Revealed... Confidential Report: Bill Clinton, Al Gore and the Communist Chinese Connection". It is written and hosted by then company president, Floyd G. Brown.[8]

Citizens United campaigned against Michael Moore's 2004 film Fahrenheit 9/11, advocating for government limits on how much advertising the film received.[9] It also made advertisements attacking the film,[10] and when the Federal Election Commission held that Moore's film was not a violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act, produced its own rebuttal film called Celsius 41.11.[11] However, the FEC held that paying to air Celsius 41.11 would constitute an illegal corporate campaign expenditure.[12]

In 2008, Citizens United produced a documentary film highly critical of Hillary Clinton called Hillary: The Movie.[13] Fearing prosecution from the FEC, the organization sought a declaratory judgment in federal court to assure their right to show the movie, leading ultimately to the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. It previously produced and screened advertisements attacking other Democrats, including Bill Clinton,[9] John Kerry,[14] and Al Gore.[13] In the 1988 US presidential election, Citizens United ran an ad that used Willie Horton to attack Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis.

The group has produced a film criticizing the United Nations.[11]

Trump administration[edit]

In 2016, the Donald Trump presidential campaign enlisted Citizens United President David Bossie as deputy campaign manager.[15] During the campaign, Bossie made regular television appearances on behalf of the Trump campaign.[16] Bossie is a close friend and longtime acquaintance of Trump administration officials Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway,[17] having introduced Bannon to Trump in 2011.[18]


Citizens United has released 25 documentaries including:

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission[edit]

Citizens United was the plaintiff in a Supreme Court case that began as a challenge to various statutory provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), known as the "McCain-Feingold" law. The case revolved around the documentary Hillary: The Movie, which was produced by Citizens United. Under the McCain-Feingold law, a federal court in Washington, D.C., ruled that Citizens United would be barred from advertising its film.[19] The case (08-205, 558 U.S. 50 (2010)) was heard in the United States Supreme Court on March 24, 2009. During oral argument, the government argued that under existing precedents, it had the power under the Constitution to prohibit the publication of books and movies if they were made or sold by corporations.[20] After that hearing, the Court requested re-argument specifically to address whether deciding the case required the Court to reconsider those earlier decisions in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and McConnell v. FEC. The case was re-argued on September 9. On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court overturned the provision of McCain-Feingold barring corporations and unions from paying for political ads made independently of candidate campaigns.[21] A dissenting opinion by Justice Stevens[22] was joined by Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, and Justice Sotomayor.


Citizens United has accepted funding from The Presidential Coalition, LLC[23] (which according to their website is "An Affiliate Of Citizens United")[24] and the Koch brothers.[25]


  1. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Citizens United. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Who We Are, CitizensUnited.org
  3. ^ "Fulfilling Our Mission". CitizensUnited.org.
  4. ^ Ehrhardt, Rainier (September 2, 2016). "Donald Trump campaign hires Citizens United president David Bossie known for historic 2010 Supreme Court ruling that deregulated political spending". Daily News. AP.
  5. ^ Citizens United Against McCain, January 31, 2008. Archived November 10, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Conservative Activists Call on Hastert To Res, ThinkProgress, October 2, 2006.
  7. ^ Stempel, Jonathan (July 27, 2015). "Citizens United loses New York ruling over donors". Reuters. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  8. ^ Citizens United's The Truth Revealed... Confidential Report (1999), retrieved September 30, 2022
  9. ^ a b Peter Overby (Twitter) (June 28, 2004). "Are 'Fahrenheit 9/11' Ads Campaign Spots?". NPR. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  10. ^ "Entertainment | US groups want Moore film banned". BBC News. June 18, 2004. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  11. ^ a b "United Nations Faces New Challenges". Fox News. March 25, 2015. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  12. ^ "Context of 'September 8, 2004: FEC Denies Citizens United Request to Show Partisan Documentary on Television before Presidential Elections'". www.historycommons.org. Archived from the original on August 4, 2019. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Stephanie Mencimer (January 13, 2008). "Hillary's Hero: Judge Royce Lamberth". Mother Jones. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  14. ^ "CNN.com – New ads call Kerry 'rich liberal elitist' – Mar 8, 2004". Edition.cnn.com. March 8, 2004. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  15. ^ Costa, Robert (September 1, 2016). "Trump enlists veteran operative David Bossie as deputy campaign manager". Washington Post. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  16. ^ Kaplan, Alex (September 28, 2016). "Trump Is Trying To Divert The Media From His Disastrous Debate, And CNN Just Admitted It's Working". MediaMatters. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  17. ^ Benen, Steven (September 2, 2016). "Citizens United chief takes leadership role on Team Trump". MSNBC. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  18. ^ Benac, Nancy; Colvin, Jill (February 1, 2017). "Little heard in public, Bannon is quiet power in Oval Office". Associated Press. Washington. Archived from the original on February 1, 2017. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  19. ^ Barnes, Robert (March 14, 2009). "'Hillary: The Movie' to Get Supreme Court Screening". The Washington Post. p. A5.
  20. ^ "The Myth of Campaign Finance Reform". National Affairs. 2010.
  21. ^ Liptak, Adam (January 21, 2010). "Justices, 5-4, Reject Corporate Spending Limit". The New York Times. Associated Press. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  22. ^ Stevens opinion at ibid.
  23. ^ "The Presidential Coalition, LLC "527" Political Organization". Campaignmoney.com. Archived from the original on April 22, 2019.
  24. ^ "About Us: Farm Team". The Presidential Coalition.
  25. ^ Ashbrook, Tom. "'Citizens United' And The Koch Brothers". WBUR.

External links[edit]