How Much is an Ambassadorship? And the Tale of How Watergate Led to a Strong Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and a Weak Federal Election Campaign Act
39 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2012 Last revised: 18 Jul 2012
Date Written: April 26, 2012
When White House Counsel John Dean infamously told President Richard Milhous Nixon that there was a “cancer on the presidency,” and that more hush money would be needed to keep the cover-up of the Watergate break-in secret, Nixon responded without much hesitation that he knew where he could get a million dollars in cash. The President was used to having vast resources at his fingertips because of the millions flowing through his campaign committees. Historians now know that much of the money flowing through those committees was from illegal sources.
This essay is a synopsis that illegal money and two of the reforms it inspired: the Federal Election Campaign Act and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. This piece will argue that the scale of post-Watergate reforms were justified by the magnitude of quid pro quo corruption in the Nixon White House. This essay will also argue that in 2012, in this post-Citizens United environment, Congress should take a similar approach and embrace both campaign finance reforms as well securities law reforms to ensure the integrity of our democratic processes.
Keywords: FECA, FCPA, campaign finance, money in politics, quid pro quo, corruption, Watergate, bribery, rule of law, SEC, DOJ, shareholder, investor, corporate political activity, laundering
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