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 current president and chairman is David Bossie.
|Type||504(c)(4) non-profit organization|
Citizens United's stated mission is to restore the United States government to "citizens' control," seeking to "reassert the traditional American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong families, and national sovereignty and security." 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.
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. Its offices are on Pennsylvania Avenue in the Capitol Hill area of Washington, D.C.
The Political Action Committee (PAC) 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.
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. On October 2, 2006, in reaction to revelations of a cover-up of inappropriate communications between Republican Congressman Mark Foley and United States House of Representatives Page, Citizens United president David Bossie called on Dennis Hastert to resign over his role in covering up the scandal.
Citizens United campaigned against Michael Moore's 2004 film Fahrenheit 9/11, advocating for government limits on how much advertising the film received. It also made advertisements attacking the film, 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. However, the FEC held that paying to air Celsius 41.11 would constitute an illegal corporate campaign expenditure.
In 2008, Citizens United produced a documentary film highly critical of Hillary Clinton called Hillary: The Movie,. 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, John Kerry, and Al Gore. In the 1988 US presidential election, Citizens United ran an ad that used Willie Horton to attack Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis. The ad was described as racist by commentators such as Mother Jones.
In 2016 the Donald Trump presidential campaign enlisted Citizens United president David Bossie as deputy campaign manager. During the campaign, Bossie made regular television appearances on behalf of the Trump campaign. Bossie is a close friend and longtime acquaintance of Trump administration officials Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, having introduced Bannon to Trump in 2011.
Citizens United Productions, headed by president David Bossie, has released 25 feature-length documentaries. The following is a list of films produced by Citizens United Productions.
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. 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. 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. A dissenting opinion by Justice Stevens was joined by Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, and Justice Sotomayor.