Richard M. Nixon: Politician, President, Administrator

By Leon Friedman; William F. Levantrosser | Go to book overview

Discussant: Maurice H. Stans
These remarks relate directly to those of Professor Gora in his paper. To the extent that David Dorsen adopted or endorsed any of his statements, they are equally applicable to his paper. I have had a difficult time getting a firm grip on this dissertation, for two reasons:
1. It contains a range of material quite beyond that suggested by the title of this conference or by the title of the paper.

Its second half is devoted to post-- Nixon legislation and litigation not relevant to the Nixon era. Its inclusion is perhaps understandable because the author participated in those events for a considerable length of time. His rationale for the inclusion is that reform was forced on the Congress and the courts by the "campaign finance excesses" and "abuses" of the Nixon fund-raising operation in the 1972 election.

2. That is an inappropriate inference. The first half of the paper justifying the purported linkage is a gross misstatement of the 1972 fund-raising situation, more at fault for what it omits or glosses over than for what it says.
The result, I am impelled to say, is an unfounded negative characterization of the Nixon finance operation, with implications of mass impropriety, based on cynical and unfair observations, embellished by obviously snide and gratuitous discrediting remarks.Those are strong words of disagreement on my part. But I can document them from the record. After all, I was there at the time as chairman of the Nixon Finance Committee.Here are some of the items which I believe are vital to the avoidance of misunderstanding about what happened in 1972 on the subject of campaign finance and the Nixon Presidency.The paper fails to acknowledge the first fact that, whatever the faults of the fund-raising activities may have been, they did not in any way originate directly or indirectly with Nixon himself or with his knowledge. He exercised no dominion over or contact with the fund-raising committee before or during the entire election period and spoke out only twice--once, to defend publicly the privacy due to contributors under the law when that right of privacy existed, but was challenged, and later to address a nationwide chain of thirty fund-raising dinners connected by closed-circuit television.
1. The paper is wrong in treating Watergate and the 1972 Nixon fundraising as one single event, when actually they were separate events entirely, though concurrent, involving entirely different people. No regular member of the Finance Committee staff was involved in Watergate, and none was charged with any offense in the Watergate criminal proceedings.

The merging of the two subjects leads to erroneous statements within the text of the paper that the fundraising played a significant role in bringing down the

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