Robert E. Mutch Campaign Finance Expert
POLITICS Campaign finance reform: Deja vu? I f Congress heads home for the holidays this month with little done on campaign finance reform, historian Robert E. Mutch (Campaigns, Congress, and Courts) will not be surprised. In the mid-1950s, Mutch says, then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson got 85 co-sponsors on a reform bill that "nobody wanted to come out against" — but privately expressed relief when the bill died in committee. Then, in 1971, Congress passed the Federal Election Campaign Act, but it didn't go into effect until April 1972. Sensing fleeting opportunity, then-President Nixon solicited large contributions and promised anonymity to donors who gave before the law kicked in. The gambit got Nixon several million-dollar donations, Mutch says — but also sent Congress back to the drawing board yet again, to strengthen disclosure and contribution limits.