Campaign Finance

Give Nixon, McCain, and Bush Some Blame for Trump's Campaign Finance Trouble

Republicans all too often adopt themselves many of the most misguided beliefs of the left. Among these misconceptions: money is inherently corrupt.



President Trump has been trying to blame the Democrats for the effort by federal prosecutors to depict payoffs to two women as campaign finance violations.

If only it were that simple.

Trump is correct to perceive campaign finance law at the heart of the matter. Actually, though, any accurate accounting of blame for it has to include three Republicans — President Nixon, Senator McCain, and President George W. Bush.

It was Nixon who, on February 7, 1972, signed into law the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.

For the subsequent measures, at the federal level, one of the main culprits was John McCain, who championed what became known as the McCain-Feingold Act, or the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. President George W. Bush, in signing into law a measure he acknowledged presents "serious constitutional concerns," nonetheless claimed, laughably, that "all of the American electorate will benefit from these measures to strengthen our democracy."

That these laws are now being used to attack a Republican president is a kind of poetic justice, writes Ira Stoll.