The other Watergate scandal, that changed campaign finance in America : Planet Money On today's show: the Watergate scandal you haven't heard about – that led directly to Citizens United and multi-billion dollar elections. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

Suitcases, secret lists, and Citizens United

Suitcases, secret lists, and Citizens United

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Charles W. Harrity/AP
Fred Wertheimer, left, director of Common Cause's campaign finances monitoring project, speaks to newsmen at a press conference in Washington, D.C., Jan. 31, 1974. Wertheimer spoke about the release of his project's analysis of campaign finances for congressmen in the 1972 elections. (AP Photo/Charles W. Harrity)
Charles W. Harrity/AP

Fifty years ago, five burglars were caught breaking into the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. It was one of the most infamous moments in American political history.

But there's a corner of that scandal you probably haven't heard about, one with far-reaching impact.

When a D.C. lawyer learned the burglars were paid in part by secret donations to the Nixon campaign, he launched a hunt for answers. His work helped make huge changes in how we pay for elections. But it also had very unintended consequences, ultimately leading to the multi-billion dollar elections of today.

Music: "School Dancer," "Summon The Spirits,"and "Hot Pants."

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