The son of a sawmill worker, and the grandson of a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, Brown grew up in the Pacific Northwest in a family of Democrats with 100-year-old roots in the area. He graduated from Olympia High School in Olympia, Washington in 1979, and from the University of Washington. He holds a bachelor's degree in economics. He was appointed to, but chose to leave, the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Brown credits meeting Ronald Reagan at a Masonic Temple in 1976 for sparking his interest in politics when he was fifteen years old. He is married to NYT Bestselling author Mary Beth Brown, author of The Faith of Ronald Reagan, and they have 3 children.
In 1992, Brown was quoted in the Washington Times:
I have a sense of what connects with people like me. We're not culturally Republicans. We're not libertarians. We're not neo-conservatives or former liberals. We're just old-fashioned, blue-collar social conservatives. These are people who couldn't care less about politics, want to be left alone by government, but if their country calls for them to fight abroad, will. You win elections by cultivating people like me.
In 1988 Brown founded Citizens United. Several Brown-organized campaigns have been studied for their effectiveness; these include the effort to secure the confirmation of Judge Clarence Thomas, and the independent campaigns against Michael Dukakis and Bill Clinton. The anti-Dukakis effort produced the famous “Willie Horton” commercial.
Brown and Citizens United worked on behalf of the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. At the time, Brown told the New York Times, "What people don't understand is how bitter conservatives are about Bork," referring to Robert Bork, a conservative federal appellate judge and former Yale law professor nominated by Ronald Reagan to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 and rejected by the Senate.
In a 2007 CNN documentary, Broken Government: Campaign Killers, journalist Campbell Brown, who is not related to Floyd Brown, interviewed him briefly on the subject of the Willie Horton ad, but not about a racy ad with a toll-free number that listeners could call to hear a recording of Gennifer Flowers, a woman who had been the subject of inquiries into President Bill Clinton. Campbell Brown attributed the Flowers ad to David Bossie rather than Floyd Brown, prompting Citizens United to threaten a lawsuit, and to distinguish between its activities, and those of Floyd Brown, the "true" author of the Flowers ad.
He is active in the Republican Party and was a delegate to both the 2000 and 1996 National conventions. In 1996 he served on the Republican National Convention Platform Committee. He has been an advisor and consultant to the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush, Bob Dole and Steve Forbes for President campaigns. He was Midwest Regional Director of the Dole for President campaign in 1988, managing campaigns in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska. In 2016 he served on the National Finance Committee of Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign.
Federal Election Commission Complaint
In 1992, Brown headed the Presidential Victory Committee, which backed the candidacy of George H.W. Bush. In March 1992, the Bush campaign sought to halt the committee's efforts to raise money. Bobby Burchfield, acting as Bush campaign counsel, wrote to Brown, "Your group has neither asked for nor received permission to solicit funds using the name of George Bush. The president strongly disapproves of this misleading use of his name and reputation."
CBS Evening News reported that Floyd Brown harassed the family of Susann Coleman, a former law student of Bush's opponent Bill Clinton. Coleman had committed suicide, and Brown was attempting to investigate a rumor that she had had an affair with Clinton. David Bossie reportedly stalked the Coleman family while working for Brown. In April, 1992, 30 news organizations received "an anonymous and untraceable letter" by fax "claiming Clinton had had an affair with a former law student who committed suicide 15 years ago." Floyd Brown attempted to investigate any connection between Clinton and the 1977 suicide of this "emotionally distraught young woman, seven-months pregnant" Susann Coleman.
In an audiotaped phone conversation with Coleman's sister, the following exchange took place:
Brown: Was she depressed? See, you won't even answer if she was depressed.Brown:
Coleman's Sister: Because I—
Brown: Was she suicidal?
Coleman's Sister: Just leave my family alone.
Two days after the CBS charges aired, the Bush-Quayle campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Brown, seeking to distance itself from his tactics, and calling Brown and his associates "the lowest forms of life".
Whitewater Controversy and Clinton Impeachment
Brown figured prominently in two ways in the Whitewater controversy of the Clinton presidential administration. Brown was investigating Clinton. Brown was contacted by David Hale, a municipal judge facing indictment for fraud, then functioning as a paid informant for the FBI. Under the auspices of Citizens United, Brown issued letters to 100,000 donors to Citizens United, asking for money and saying that he had proof that President Bill Clinton had engaged "in a massive cover-up and conspiracy to obstruct justice" in the investigations surrounding the Whitewater controversy. At the same time that Brown was investigating the Clintons, he was using the tax-exempt status of Citizens United to acquire funds, urging his donors to fill out an "emergency impeachment" survey, utilizing a push-poll technique. Brown's fundraising literature said, "Our top investigator, David Bossie, is on the inside directing the probe as Special Assistant to U.S. Senator Lauch Faircloth on the U.S. Senate Whitewater Committee."
Obama Attacks in 2008 Presidential Race
In the spring of 2008, working for The National Campaign Fund, Floyd Brown launched what he called "the most internet-intensive effort for an ad debut ever" to disseminate via what he claimed was three to five million emails to conservatives the implication that Barack Obama had been "soft" on crime as a state senator in Illinois before his presidential candidacy. The initiative was funded by a political action committee calling itself the "National Campaign Fund," which had $14,027 in the bank at the end of March, 2008. Other Brown-established groups to raise funds in this effort include a 527 group, Citizens for a Safe and Prosperous America. Brown also uses a 501(c)(4) non-profit to raise funds for the Policy Issues Institute. Brown made appearances to promote his ad and his company on a news network, Fox News, In response to the attack ad, Newsweek published a report on the ad, saying it was the attempt of "a conservative ad man striving to regain his Willie Horton notoriety" and directed readers to factcheck.org to get information on Obama's voting record. The report includes a swipe at MSNBC's Chris Matthews for airing the ad continuously, pointing to Brown's strategy of getting "free" air time for ads by making them controversial.
Brown's fundraising strength is diminished by the hesitance of large donors to leave themselves vulnerable to the legal difficulties encountered by donors to "swiftboat" ad efforts in the 2004 election cycle, and to new laws which curtail some of the more offensive content of political ads by 527 groups. As some of the contributors to the "swiftboat" ads in 2004 faced stiff fines from the FEC, Brown has refrained from operating out of 527 groups and opted for the PAC platform and budgeting from small donors. Brown's stated goal is to release one new attack ad every two weeks, and released an advertisement asserting that Obama was registered as a Muslim student in Indonesia, and that he attended an Indonesian school that taught Islam as a child. The claim has been refuted by the Obama campaign. As of March 2008, Brown had raised $50,000, and spent $5,000.00 on actual ad buys, also posting the ad on YouTube and other public platforms
In August 2008 Brown teamed up with writer and entrepreneur Jerome Corsi to promote Corsi's book Obama Nation via viral web campaigns and emailings.
Brown was a co-founder in 2007, with James V. Lacey, Tim Kelley, and Michael Reagan, of the National Campaign Fund in support of GOP presidential candidates Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and in opposition to Democratic presidential candidate New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.An affiliated 527 called Citizens for a Safe and Prosperous America was also formed in late 2007.
ExposeObama.com is an anti-Barack Obama website created by Brown and his National Campaign Fund. The website purports to show that the Democratic nominee has inconsistent positions regarding abortion, taxes and other issues, in addition to being soft on crime and on what the site calls "Islamo Fascism". The website has been criticized in media accounts for "mudslinging" and misrepresenting Obama's positions.
In January 2009, Jim Lacy, Brown's associate in the National Campaign Fund, issued a press release from the "Legacy Political Action Committee" unveiling its new web campaign to unseat Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Also listed in the team of consultants were "experienced opposition researcher Jim Sills, and William Saracino, a political consultant. The campaign against Reid was launched based on polling provided by NSON Opinion Research, owned by Ronald T. Nielson.
From 2001 until 2006 Brown served as the executive director of the West Coast office of Young America's Foundation. YAF is the largest right-wing campus organization in the U.S. It operates the Reagan Ranch, also known as Rancho del Cielo, and conducts conferences, seminars, internships and disseminates educational materials nationwide. As executive director Brown oversaw the preservation of the historic Reagan Ranch and the building of the 20 million dollar Reagan Ranch Center in downtown Santa Barbara, California.
Brown is the author of Slick Willie: Why America Cannot Trust Bill Clinton, published in 1992. Brown often claims publicly that the book reached "best-selling" status and sold 200,000 copies, but the New York Times determined that the sales figures were only 50,000. Brown co-authored Prince Albert: The Life and Lies of Al Gore, a book about Al Gore's environmental work, with David Bossie. Brown also authored Say the Right Thing, a collection of conservative sayings.
Brown has written extensively for many publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Times, National Review, and Human Events. As a commentator, he has appeared on numerous network and cable TV shows including: CNN’s Crossfire, the CBS Evening News, ABC’s Primetime, NBC’s Today show, FOX News, MSNBC and more. From 1995 until 2000 he hosted his own talk radio show on Seattle’s KVI 570 AM.Floyd Brown from 2005 until 2008 was a paid consultant for The Oxford Club, a "membership only" organization that reports it has a membership of 65,000 in "over" 110 countries. The mission of the organization is to assist members to "create a financial legacy for their families that is shielded from excessive taxation, seizure, fraud, and inflation." The Oxford Club sponsors conferences and travel for investors, and is based in Baltimore, Maryland. It touts its "special alerts" to prompt members to pick certain stocks to buy, and to consult its "Investment University" series for advice from Brown and other consultants, to learn "what universities cannot teach you." The Oxford club compares its exclusivity with that of Skull and Bones at Yale, and charges an annual membership fee of $79.00. In return, members are promised "insider information." In promotional materials, The Oxford Club lists its accomplishments as helping various members to earn 234% return on investment in a Chinese metal producer, 171% per cent on a commercial property trust, 107% on "the soon-to-be-leader in Chinese life insurance", and 394% on a major pharmaceutical research firm.
On April 1, 2008, Brown appeared on Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto business program, described only as "real estate investor," in a segment titled "New Foreclosure Bailout: Do Homeowners Really Need it?" and stated, "We agree in the fact that the government made this mess. They clearly helped foster it. I think Alan Greenspan kept rates too low after the 2001 recession and that caused way too much liquidity to flow into the markets..."
In May 2008, Brown recommended investment in the Dodge and Cox Stock Fund, a mutual fund that had recently offered a rare opening to new investors. Dodge and Cox held shares in AIG, among others.
My family were radicals who were willing to die for their beliefs. I guess I must have gotten some of my grandfather's blood, because I'm willing to do what I have to."
"When we're through, people are going to think that Willie Horton is Michael Dukakis's nephew."
"What people don't understand is how bitter conservatives are about Bork."
"If people killed themselves over an editorial, this town (Washington, D.C.) would be a ghost town."
"President Reagan understood the American people and would never have asked them to join an unending war with no clear objectives and end point."
"It is absolutely critical that Obama's negatives go up with Republicans."
My suggestion is that you take your time accumulating shares while investing in these oil companies over the next three months. From there, just watch them head higher. I guarantee you'll feel better about pulling up to the pump and paying a higher price for gas this summer." January 17, 2008.
"Those liberals, they start to foam at the mouth when they hear my name."
"Would you go to jail over a political ad?" to NPR, August 2008
Time (magazine): “Brown has stature among devoted conservatives that almost matches his physical heft (6 ft. 6 in. and 240 lbs.)”
Salon.com magazine: "He has given conservatism a rank smell for two decades—and if there is a racist odor to the coming general election campaign, it is likely to emanate from his vicinity." (April 25, 2008)
Mary Matalin: "I'm not a big fan of Floyd Brown... He gave us the Willie Horton ads that the Republican Party has had to eat for two election cycles now."
USA Today: "[Brown has] established himself as one of the nation's dirtiest political strategists."
George Stephanopoulos: "Floyd Brown is a slimy thug for hire."