Campaign Finance Reformrnby Jack J. TawilrnIn accepting the Democratic nomination for the presidencyrnin 1908, this century’s greatest populist warned: “How canrnthe people hope to rule if they are not able to learn, until afterrnthe election, what the predatory interests are doing?” The manrnwas, of course, William Jennings Bryan, and he offered a “completernand effective” solution to the financing of political campaigns:rna ban on contributions from corporations, a cap ofrn$10,000 on individual contributions, and public disclosure ofrnall contributions prior to an election.rnCurrent law falls well short of Mr. Bryan’s prescription, andrnthe issue still commands substantial populist support, not leastrnamong Ross Perot’s followers. Yet financial abuses in politicalrncampaigns predate the Republic itself, at least by the yardstickrnof current standards. Had Common Cause, the clean campaignrnlobby, been around at the time, they surely would havernadmonished George Washington about his 1758 campaign forrna seat in the Virginia House of Burgesses. At an election dayrnevent, Washington served up 46 gallons of beer, 34 gallons ofrnwine, 28 gallons of rum, 50 gallons of rum punch, and two gallonsrnof cider royal. Considering there were just 391 voters in hisrndistrict, his expenditure per voter was at least comparable tornMichael Huffington’s neady $30 million campaign for the Senaternin 1994. Nor would Common Cause have been pleasedrnwith Abraham Lincoln’s secret $400 purchase in 1860 of a German-rnAmerican newspaper to ensure favorable reporting of thernRepublican Party both in English and in German.rnThe brief history of campaign finance reform that followsrnshows how legislative action has attempted—and largelyrnjack /. Tawil is the principal author of Reinventing HealthrnCare and the president of Research Enterprises in Richland,rnWashington.rnfailed—to address the problems arising from the financing ofrnpolitical campaigns. It is a history that highlights the difficultyrnin legislating politically acceptable solutions that do not jeopardizernour constitutional guarantees of free speech.rnPublic attitudes toward political campaigns have clearlyrnchanged since the Republic’s founding. During the nation’srnearly years, the economy was primarily agrarian, and there werernno large corporations capable of corrupting the political process.rnMoreover, the minuscule fraction of the nation’s resourcesrncontrolled by Congress did not enable politicians tornchannel wealth to favored individuals and businesses.rnCongress, during this period, also kept within the bounds of thernConstitution—especially a narrowly interpreted CommercernClause, and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, which grant allrnrights not enumerated in the Constitution to the states and tornthe people. Finally, because Congress was convened for only arnfew months out of the year, members had less time to makernmischief.rnNot only has the scope of government increased over thernvears, but the ambitions and tenure of legislators have changedrnas well. In the early years of the Republic, those holding nationalrnoffice were primarily merchants and gentleman farmers.rnThey came to serve their nation for a few years and then returnedrnto private life. Not only did they rely on their own financialrnresources for their political campaigns, but they alsornwere expected to bear many of the expenses associated withrnholding office. This burden could be substantial. Thomas Jefferson,rnwho inherited extensi’e landholdings, was neady insolventrnby the end of his second term.rnBy the early 19th century, the professional politican hadrnemerged. Not men of wealth, they sought outside resources tornfund their campaigns. This need for recurring financial sup-rn20/CHRONICLESrnrnrn