1RETURN OF THE SECRET DONORS .
2To old political hands , wise to the ways of candidates and money , 1972 was a watershed year .
3Richard M. Nixon 's re-election campaign was awash in cash , secretly donated by corporations and individuals .
4Fred Wertheimer , a longtime supporter of campaign finance regulation , was then a lawyer for Common Cause .
5He vividly recalls the weeks leading up to April 7 , 1972 , before a new campaign finance law went into effect requiring the disclosure of the names of individual donors .
6`` Contributors , '' he said , `` were literally flying into Washington with satchels of cash . ''
7The Committee for the Re-Election of the President was also illegally hauling in many millions of dollars from corporations , many of which felt pressured into making contributions .
8The record of donors was so tightly held that it was kept in a locked drawer by Rose Mary Woods , Nixon 's secretary .
9The list -- which came to be known as `` Rose Mary 's Baby '' -- was n't released until Wertheimer forced the issue through a lawsuit .
10Among those on the list were William Keeler , the chief executive of Phillips Petroleum , who pleaded guilty during the post-Watergate prosecutions to making an illegal corporate donation .
11Rose Mary 's Baby itself , now an artifact of the nation 's biggest political scandal , sits in the Watergate collection of the National Archives .
12In this year 's midterm elections , there is no talk of satchels of cash from donors .
13Nor is there any hint of illegal actions reaching Watergate-like proportions .
14But the fundraising practices that earned people convictions in Watergate -- giving direct corporate money to a campaign and doing so secretly -- are back in a different form in 2010 .
15This time around , the corporations are still giving secretly , but legally .