Ever since 1905, when President Theodore Roosevelt proposed to Congress that "[a]ll contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law," American political reformers have been proposing to break the bond between special-interest money and electoral politics by regulating the way candidates raise money to campaign for elective office. Since Teddy Roosevelt's call, Congress has passed no fewer than twelve different bills to reform the campaign finance system. The first of these bills, the Tillman Act of 1907, was a direct result of Roosevelt's effort. It sought to prohibit campaign contributions from corporations. In addition to offering no provisions for enforcement, the Act nullified the intent of its prohibition against corporate contributions by allowing individual contributions from corporate stockholders and executives.

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