For many political observers, it feels like a return to the pre-Watergate years. Rich bankrollers—W. Clement Stone then, Sheldon Adelson now—cut jaw-dropping checks backing their favorite candidates. Political operatives devise ways to hide tens of millions in campaign donations. And protesters have taken to the streets over what they see as a broken system. “We’re back to the Nixon era,” says Norman Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, “the era of undisclosed money, of big cash amounts and huge interests that are small in number dominating American politics.” This is the story of how we got here.