Campaign Finance from Watergate, to Soft Money and Citizens United | Retro Report

Campaign Finance from Watergate, to Soft Money and Citizens United | Retro Report


Over the weekend, five men were nabbed in
the Democratic National Headquarters here in Washington, seemingly preparing to tap
or bug the place. It was the scandal to end all political scandals.
And while it may have started as a burglary, it soon led to a secret money trail. Illegal contributions to President Nixon’s
reelection campaign.. The secret $200,000 contribution… …putting the U.S. government on the block
for sale, like a side of beef. And a law that was to limit the influence
of money in politics forever. We’re never, never, never going back to
the old corrupt way of doing things. But money found its way back in. Soft money. Secret money. Dark money. And 40 years later, there are record amounts
of money flowing through the political system – a system some say is less accountable than ever. We can do legally everything Nixon had to do illegally. It was 1972, and President Richard Nixon
was on his way to a landslide reelection victory backed by one of the most successful fundraising
efforts in history. If it takes money and organization to elect
a president, the Republicans are ready with both. But that victory would soon unravel after
five men with ties to the Nixon campaign were arrested for breaking into the Democratic
National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel. The ensuing cover up and widespread abuse of power would eventually bring down Nixon’s presidency. I shall resign the presidency effective at
noon tomorrow. But right after the break-in, the administration
was concerned that campaign contributions had been tied to one of the burglars.  John
Dean, who was later implicated in the cover up, was White House Counsel. When Watergate occurs, it’s immediately a
problem for the White House. It raised the whole issue of what their campaign committee
is doing, and the fact that they’ve raised a lot of money. Watergate investigators learned that right
before a disclosure deadline the Nixon campaign had received tens of millions in confidential donations. They had literally stacks and stacks of cash
sitting around. They couldn’t count it as fast as it was coming in. The source of the money was revealed when
a watchdog group, Common Cause, sued the Nixon campaign and discovered a secret White House
list of donors. It included corporations, which were legally barred from any political giving. That list had the names of all these corporations
and the amounts of money they had given. Some people were buying influence, and some people
thought that if they didn’t put the money up, they would get punished. American Airlines has admitted it made illegal
corporate contributions to President Nixon’s reelection campaign. American has charged it was a victim of a shakedown. There are two aspects: would you get something
if you gave it or would you be prevented from getting something if you didn’t give it? But this money bought results.
The President of the United States was exchanging government policy for money. After the dairy industry pledged $2 million
to his reelection campaign, Nixon approved an increase in the price of milk. The former head of the country’s biggest dairy
cooperative pleaded guilty today… The scandals led to the convictions of some
of America’s biggest corporations, and to an overhaul of the campaign finance system. The
law would now limit how much individuals could give to candidates and how much they could
spend in elections, while corporate contributions would remain illegal. The Federal Campaign Act of 1974 is going
to change American politics forever, and hopefully for the better. We thought that we got what we needed.  I
felt we had achieved a very, very historic reform. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you very, very much. But by the 1988 presidential campaign, it
was clear there was a major loophole. While donations to candidates were limited to $1,000,
individuals and corporations could give any amount to political parties. The campaign handlers like to call it “soft money.” Soft money can be raised in any amount. All perfectly legal, the campaigns insist,
since they don’t spend the money directly. I’ve always believed that campaign finance
reform creates a blueprint for how to game the system. Robert Farmer broke fundraising records for
Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis by being the first to capitalize on soft money. It can’t be coordinated with the campaign
but it certainly, it’s going to be spent to help the candidate. That’s well known. Farmer convinced big donors and their friends
to become “trustees” by asking them to each donate $100,000 dollars to the Democratic Party. It was a strategy his opponents quickly adopted. We took such abuse from the Republicans for
this program. That went on for about 45 days and they instituted the exact mirror
image of our Trustee Program. Any campaign is a competition. If you don’t have the
resources to wage a credible campaign, you’re out of it. You can’t imagine how important you are
to this campaign. When president Bill Clinton needed money for
his 1996 reelection campaign, he invited supporters and some of his Party’s biggest soft money donors for coffee and sleepovers at the White House. It’s called the Lincoln Bedroom.
And while Lincoln never actually slept there, a lot of other people did, including big-money contributors to the Democratic Party. The president’s overnight guests contributed
at least $7 million dollars to the Democrats. The President of the United States
took the Lincoln Bedroom, treated it like Motel 6 and he was the bellhop. Senator John McCain, who was criticized years
earlier for his role in the Keating 5 campaign finance scandal, went on to introduce legislation
to close the soft money loophole. There was too much money that was washing
around unattributed and unaccounted for. The system had become corrupted. It took an enormous
amount of public pressure to bring about the passage of the legislation. Tonight, the first significant reform since
Watergate is headed to the President’s desk. It took seven years but in 2002, they succeeded. Congress finally cleaned up the system, outlawing
huge unlimited contributions from business, labor unions, and the wealthy known as “soft money.” We felt very good.  We knew there were going
to be challenges, we knew they were out there, but I was very surprised and deeply disappointed
when the United States Supreme Court made fundamental decisions such as corporations
are the same as people. A blockbuster decision from the Supreme Court today. The sharply divided justices declared that
the law violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech for all, even corporations. The First Amendment says, “Congress shall
make no law abridging speech.”  It doesn’t give the right to speak to certain people
— it gives it to everyone. James Bopp brought the Citizens United case
and says he is bringing more cases so there can be more money — and more speech – in elections. We need a lot more money spent because people
are woefully uninformed. Most people can’t even name their congressman. The rulings in Citizens United and other
recent cases meant that while there were still limits on giving directly to candidates and
parties, individuals and corporations could now give unlimited money to outside political groups. Nonstop negative TV ads from super PACs, big
money groups outside the campaigns. While Super PACS have to disclose their donors,
other outside groups, known as 501c’s, can accept what critics call “dark money”: contributions
from donors who don’t have to disclose who they are. All these outside groups spent a reported
$1 billion dollars in the 2012 election, and are increasingly financed by a small group
of big donors from both political parties. Indeed, a handful of billionaires have emerged
as the country’s backroom power brokers. If money is free speech, then the wealthiest
people in America are those that get to speak the most freely. And it’s not just high-profile, national elections. Big outside money is also pouring into state and local contests – even judicial races. And funding attack ads like this, which ran during the primary race for the North Carolina Supreme Court. Justice Robin Hudson: not tough on child
molesters, not fair to victims. I was horrified when I saw it. The very
idea that I or anyone else on the court would quote “side” with child molesters is just
completely ridiculous.  If they were coming in here spending money to actually educate
voters that would be one thing. But that’s not what they’re doing. The ad was paid for by “Justice for All NC,”
a Super PAC whose address is a P.O. Box at this Raleigh UPS Store. Most of its money comes from the Republican State Leadership Committee, an outside political group based in Washington. We look to find the best return our investment
for our dollars and the most effective way to convey a message to the general public. The Committee takes donations from corporations
and other contributors and funnels them into state-level organizations.  Those groups
then spend that money to influence elections for judges, legislators, and governors. The money is a means to convey a message about
which direction you want the country to go. Anybody that thinks that there should be
less money in politics is essentially at odds with the United States Supreme Court that
said that this is one of our fundamental freedoms. I think we’re well on the way to see all
of the major legal justifications for campaign finance laws to be overturned. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a key
limit on political contributions. Nobody looks at this political system and
likes it. This is overwhelmingly despised
by the American public. Lawrence Lessig is a Harvard Law professor
trying to draw attention to big money in politics by backing candidates who support reform.
 He’s started MAYDAY, a SuperPAC to end SuperPACs. The objective is to prove something that the
experts don’t believe, and that is that Americans care enough about this issue to
vote on the basis of it. But Fred Wertheimer worries it’s not enough
and says today’s political landscape looks awfully familiar. What was at the core of the Watergate campaign
finance scandals?  Corporate money, secret money, unlimited contributions from individuals.
What do we have today?  Corporate money, secret money, unlimited contributions from
individuals. We are full circle to the days prior to Watergate.
 There are not people walking around the streets of Washington, DC with briefcases
full of money, but we are very close to that.

Comments

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    adampincente209

    I fucking hate the NYT. It is fake news, opinion journalism, Carlos Slims blog. But i do enjoy retro report, and hate when videos begins with its usual theme song. For me its part of the point of watching, love the intros. This was the first time the media realized they can have ppl removed from office so they still feel they can do the same with Trump. What they fail to realize is Trump supporters wish every member of the mainstrain media die a painful death and we encourage our commander in chief to fight back against these scum bags and that we will always have his back. America First Fuck Isaml!

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    Nelio Brilhante

    isso e mentira de rede globo não tem 200.000.00 milhões de pessoas assistino vcs seus demoníacos e essa novela e uma porcaria vcs manipulam os dados afacvor de vcs mais a casa ta caino vá pra casa do calharo falia marinho cvs sabem muito e mentir enganar trapacear e sonegar impostos seus ladrões vcs manipulam pessoas fracas mais amim não vão se fuder seus baitolas

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    Torben Otten

    Don’t want someone bought by corporations? Vote out the bought politicians and replace them with ones that don’t except pac money.

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