Campaign Spending in Europe and America

October 11, 1974

Report Outline
Contrast in Systems of Financing
U.S. Efforts to Control Spending
Growth of the European Systems
Special Focus

Contrast in Systems of Financing

Passage of the New U.S. Campaign Spending Law

The widespread abuses of federal election laws during the 1972 presidential campaign have forced Americans to reexamine and to reform their system of campaign finance. It has long been recognized that at the state, congressional and particularly at the presidential level, political candidates have become increasingly indebted to private organizations and individuals who gave them money to finance their campaigns. But it took the Watergate scandal and the collapse of Richard M. Nixon's presidency to dramatize the need for change in the rules of the game of “dollar politics.”

Included in the unprecedented catalog of misdeeds which have come to be known as Watergate were specific violations of campaign spending laws, violations of other criminal laws made possible by the availability of virtually unlimited campaign contributions, and still other instances where campaign funds were used in a manner that strongly suggested influence peddling or, at the very least, gave the appearance of gross improprieties in the conduct of public office. Indeed, one of the things that precipitated President Nixon's resignation was the disclosure that he had concealed from the public his knowledge that the June 1972 Watergate break-in had been financed by private contributions to his reelection campaign.

Public outrage at the Watergate scandal placed strong pressure on Congress to devise means to control excessive campaign spending. In response to a rising tide of public demand, and after months of delay, Congress in 1974 finally completed action on campaign finance reform legislation. House and Senate conferees reached final agreement Oct. 7 on a landmark campaign finance bill aimed at curbing the influence of big money contributors and clearing up the kind of abuses revealed in the 1972 election. President Ford was expected to sign the bill.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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May 06, 2016  Campaign Finance
May 28, 2010  Campaign Finance Debates
Jun. 13, 2008  Campaign Finance Reform
Nov. 22, 2002  Campaign Finance Showdown
Mar. 31, 2000  Campaign Finance Reform
Feb. 09, 1996  Campaign Finance Reform
Mar. 29, 1985  Campaign Finance Debate
Oct. 11, 1974  Campaign Spending in Europe and America
May 03, 1956  Campaign Controls
Apr. 18, 1952  Control of Campaign Abuses
Jun. 05, 1946  Campaign Spending and the Law
Apr. 15, 1940  Money in Politics
Jul. 01, 1931  Revision of Federal Corrupt Practices Act
Dec. 01, 1929  The Vare Case
Apr. 06, 1928  Presidential Campaign Funds
Aug. 17, 1926  Excessive Expenditures in Election Campaigns
Aug. 10, 1926  Illegal and Corrupt Practices in Elections
Jul. 16, 1924  Election Costs and Campaign Contributions
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Regional Political Affairs: Europe