COLLECTION FINDING AID



ROBERT P. VISSER PAPERS, 1972-78

Legal Counsel for the President Ford Committee




SUMMARY DESCRIPTION

Working papers of Robert Visser, Legal Counsel for the President Ford Committee (PFC) and material that he collected from other PFC offices for legal and historical reasons. Major topics include ballot security, campaign travel, delegate selection, federal and state election laws, the Federal Election Commission, campaign finance, insurance, campaign volunteers, Republican National Convention rules, and the creation of both the 1976 Presidential Campaign Liquidation Trust and Campaign 76 Media Communications, Inc.

QUANTITY
8.9 linear feet (ca. 8,900 pages)

DONOR
Robert P. Visser (2003-NLF-018)

ACCESS
Open. Some items may be temporarily restricted under terms of the donor's deed of gift, a copy of which is available on request, or under National Archives and Records Administration general restrictions (36 CFR 1256).

COPYRIGHT
Robert P. Visser donated to the United States of America his copyrights in all of his unpublished writings in National Archives collections. The copyrights to materials written by other individuals or organizations are presumed to remain with them. Works prepared by U.S. Government employees as part of their official duties are in the public domain.

Prepared by Stacy Davis, August 2004
[s:\bin\findaid\Visser, Robert - Papers.doc]


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION


Robert Peter Visser


October 7, 1940 - Born in New York, New York

1958 - Graduated Brooklyn Technical High School

1963 - The City College of the City University of New York (B.S. -Physics)

1966 - George Washington University National Law Center (J.D.)

1966 - 1969 - Associate attorney at Mudge, Rose, Guthrie & Alexander, New York office

1969 - 1973 - Associate attorney at Mudge, Rose, Guthrie & Alexander, Washington, D.C. office

1972 - Surrogate Advance Team, Committee to Re-Elect the President

1973-1975 - Attorney at Howard, Prim, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady and Pollack

1975 1977 - Partner at Obion, Spivak, Maier and Visser

1975 - 1977 - General Counsel, President Ford Committee

1980 - General Counsel, Bush for President Committee

1977- Present - Attorney in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area


INTRODUCTION

In August 1975, the President Ford Committee (PFC) hired attorney Robert Visser as General Counsel. In October, Visser hired Tim Ryan, a Baltimore attorney who had been a volunteer advanceman for the White House and the Assistant Director of the 1972 Inaugural Parade, to work as his assistant. Unlike most PFC offices, there was no staff turnover during the campaign, so Visser and Ryan handled the PFC's legal work through Election Day and into early 1977.

The passage of the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974 created an additional role for Visser as General Counsel as compared to the role of lawyers in previous presidential campaigns. This legislation, signed into law by President Ford on October 15, 1974, established the first spending limits for candidates in presidential primary and general elections, provided for disclosure and reporting of campaign contributions and expenditures, introduced public financing for general election campaigns and matching funds to cover part of the costs of primary campaigns, and created a Federal Election Commission (FEC) to develop regulations, implement the law, and enforce its provisions.

Because of delays in the appointment and confirmation of FEC members, the Commission did not begin its work until just before initial efforts to organize the PFC began. This meant that the PFC, like several other 1976 campaign committees, had to begin the process of running a campaign while frequently asking the FEC for guidance on procedures or filing complaints about possible violations by other campaign committees. Visser and Ryan handled these interactions with the FEC, while also working on more traditional campaign committee attorney tasks such as lawsuits, delegate challenges, contracts with consulting firms and staff members, coordinating the work of the PFC state legal counsels, and ballot security. A more complete history of the PFC and the changes to election laws is available in the Ford Library’s finding aid for the Records of the President Ford Committee.

The Visser Papers
This collection consists of Robert Visser’s personal working papers and material that he collected from other offices for legal and historical reasons. These papers do not heavily document the strategic plan of the campaign, but rather document the details of being an attorney for a presidential election committee. For example, there is correspondence throughout this collection between Visser, Tim Ryan, and other PFC employees with the Federal Election Commission, Republican National Committee (RNC), White House staff, general counsels of other political organizations, and outside law and accounting firms regarding legal matters for the PFC. It also contains background material, state election law summaries, and published copies of federal laws. There are discussions of the implications of the Supreme Court decision in Buckley v. Valeo, which invalidated portions of the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974 and would lead to the passage of the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1976.

One major topic is the question of who should pay for presidential and advocate travel during an election campaign, and how should one separate “official” and “political” travel. For example, there is heavy documentation of a complaint filed by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) with the Federal Election Commission regarding a ruling that presidential travel before January 1, 1976 should be treated as “party building” rather than advancement of one’s own candidacy. Money spent by the RNC for such travel would not be charged against allowable candidate expenditure levels set by federal election laws. In the complaint, the DNC sought to prove that President Ford’s travel since the formation of the PFC was directly and substantially related to his candidacy. Material includes a copy of the complaint, the PFC responses to the action, and background materials used by the PFC to counter this complaint.

The Visser Papers contain the official documents related to the creation and incorporation of the Campaign ’76 Media Communications, Inc. in December 1975 (the PFC’s in-house advertising agency), including the Articles of Incorporation, Certification of Incorporation of Incorporation, bylaws, Board of Directors meeting minutes, Howard H. Calloway’s resignation as Director, annual report for Foreign and Domestic Non-Profit Corporations, and a Corporate Resolution (Bankers Trust, New York City). Visser’s working papers contain correspondence, memos, drafts, and bank documents and document the development of the corporation, but do not heavily document the subsequent work of the company. This collection also contains material related to the proposed incorporation of the PFC as a nonprofit political committee, including drafts of the articles of incorporation and bylaws, memoranda and correspondence regarding the advantages, disadvantages, and tax implications of incorporating.

Material related to the 1976 Republican National Convention concerns the revision and adoption of convention rules by the RNC Rules Committee and the Convention Rules Committee, logistical arrangements, the delegate selection process, preliminary schedule, the Platform Committee, the Credentials Committee, the Rule 29 Committee (a committee authorized by the 1972 Republican National Convention to review and study the rules adopted by that convention). The question of amending Rule 18 (“The Justice Amendment”) is particularly well documented in this collection. If adopted this rule would require delegates to vote in accordance with results of binding state primaries or direct elections. Included are copies of the proposed amendment, memoranda, statement for and against the amendment.

Folders related to Virginia and California fill a gap in the Records of the President Ford Committee, General Counsel’s State Legal File. This material documents exchanges between the General Counsel's Office and state PFC legal counsels, other state PFC officers, local Republicans, federal and state agencies, and private law firms. It relates to interpretation of and compliance with federal and state campaign laws, Republican Party rules related to local PFC offices, party precinct caucuses, state conventions, and a challenge related to Virginia delegates.

The importance of volunteerism in the 1976 campaign in light of new campaign funding limitations is evident in this collection. There are several contact lists throughout this collection, information related to the volunteer legal staff, and a copy of the Ford/Dole Volunteer Campaign Manual, which was created to provide a resource for local leaders on campaign procedures, activities, and legal guidelines. Also included is an analysis of the performance of People for Ford, the volunteer arm of the President Ford Committee formed during the general election to develop outreach efforts to special voter groups. This report was written by Deputy Coordinator Tom Ruffin and provides an analysis of the operation of the organization, problems encountered, successes, failures, and offers suggestions for future elections. It also includes comments submitted from each People For Ford desk: Blacks, Business and Professional Groups, Ethnics, Jewish, Farm Desk, Labor Desk, Older Americans, Special Events, Veterans, and National Volunteers.

This collection also documents what happens to presidential election committees after the election is over. There are official documents and working papers related to the development of the 1976 Presidential Campaign Liquidation Trust, an agreement between the Republican National Committee and the trustees of the President Ford Committee to fulfill requirements of the campaign laws, and handle possible compliance actions or other possible contingent liabilities. Included are the final agreement (executed on December 1, 1976), document drafts, notes, and background material. The collection also includes correspondence regarding the repayment of funds to the FEC following the election, and the donation of PFC materials to the National Archives.

Finally, the Visser Papers also include a Southern States Republican Conference briefing book (attended by several members of PFC, including Visser), the President Ford Committee Campaign Plan (8/29/1975), and material related to Democratic opponents, voter groups, delegate selection, insurance matters, building lease agreements, contracts, and various lawsuits.

Related Materials (August 2004)
Other materials that directly relate to legal matters and the 1976 Presidential election can be found in the General Counsel’s Office Files in the President Ford Committee Records, as well as other offices of the PFC. The Visser Papers complement many topics that exist in the PFC records such as ballot security, federal and state election campaign laws, relationship between the PFC and the Federal Election Commission, campaign finance, the Republican National Convention, and Campaign ’76 Media Communications, Inc.

The files of Philip Buchen, Counsel to the President, contain material on a number of campaign‑related legal questions, including the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974 and 1976 and White House interactions with the Federal Election Commission concerning proposed rulings and regulations. Other collections with material include the staff files and papers of Michael Raoul-Duval, the papers of Robert Teeter, and the staff files of John Marsh, James A. Reichley , Edward Schmults, and Rogers Morton.

The following White House Central Files Subject File categories are the most prominent file locations for material relate to the campaign: FG 387 (Federal Election Commission), PL (Political Affairs), SP (Speeches), and TR (Trips).


SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

General Subject File, 1972-1978.  (Boxes 1‑23, 8.9 linear feet)
Memoranda, correspondence, reports, clippings, publications, speeches, press releases, leases, insurance forms, inventories, staff lists, briefing books, building diagrams, brochures, and notes related to Robert Vissers role as General Counsel for the President Ford Committee (PFC). Topics include ballot security, delegate selection, federal and state election laws, communication with the Federal Election Commission, campaign finance, insurance, claims against the PFC, presidential and advocate campaign travel, and volunteers. Material related to the 1976 Republican National Convention concern planning and the adoption of convention rules (in particular Rule 18, The Justice Resolution). Also there are documents related to the development of the 1976 Presidential Campaign Liquidation Trust and Campaign 76 Media Communications, Inc.

Arranged alphabetically by subject.


CONTAINER LIST

Box 1 - General Subject File

  • 1976 Presidential Campaign Liquidation Trust
  • 1976 Presidential Campaign Liquidation Trust – Drafts (1)-(2)
  • 1976 Presidential Campaign Liquidation Trust – PFC/RNC (1)-(3)
  • Advocates
  • American Business Volunteers For President Ford
  • Ballot Security (Project Integrity – 1976) (1)-(2)
  • Ballot Security (Project Integrity – 1976) – Manual
  • Ballot Security (Project Integrity – 1976) – State Contested Election and Recount Statutes for State, Federal, and District of Columbia Office (1)-(2)
  • Ballot Security (Project Integrity – 1976) – Voting Methods Manual

Box 2 - General Subject File

  • Broadcast Media Guide for Candidates
  • Business and Professional Groups for President Ford, 11/10/1976 (1)-(3)
  • California (1)-(3)
  • Campaign – Miscellaneous (1)-(3)
  • Campaign ’76 Media Communications, Inc. – Articles of Incorporation
  • Campaign ’76 Media Communications, Inc. – Annual Report for Foreign and Domestic Non-Profit Corporations
  • Campaign ’76 Media Communications, Inc. – Board of Directors Meeting Material, 09/14/1976 (Meeting never held)
  • Campaign ’76 Media Communications, Inc. – Board of Directors Meeting Minutes and Accompanying Documents, 03/23/1976
  • Campaign ’76 Media Communications, Inc. – Board of Directors Meeting Minutes and Accompanying Documents, 06/22/1976
  • Campaign ’76 Media Communications, Inc. – Board of Directors Unanimous Written Consent of 01/07/1976
  • Campaign ’76 Media Communications, Inc. – Bylaws

Box 3 - General Subject File

  • Campaign ’76 Media Communications, Inc. – Case Regarding Gardner, Robert (“I’m Feeling Good About America”)
  • Campaign ’76 Media Communications, Inc. – Certificate of Incorporation
  • Campaign ’76 Media Communications, Inc. – Howard H. Callaway Resignation
  • Campaign ’76 Media Communications, Inc. – Corporate Resolution, Bankers Trust, New York City
  • Campaign ’76 Media Communications, Inc. – Working Papers (1)-(5)
  • Campaign Cost Allocation/President and Advocate Travel (1) – (4)
  • Campaign Cost Allocation/President and Advocate Travel – Mrs. Ford’s Trip to Hawaii, 12/1975
  • Campaign Cost Allocation/President and Advocate Travel – Presidential Trips to Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Georgia, 11/1975 (1)-(3)

Box 4 - General Subject File

  • Campaign Plan, 08/29/1975
  • Campaign Publications
  • Carter, Jimmy - Magazine
  • Cases: Salary Disputes of Ambraczyk, Sands, and Petty
  • Chronological File, 01/1976
  • Clippings (1)-(4)
  • Clippings – Time Magazine Special Issue, 8/19/1974
  • Conciliation Agreement (MUR 190/198) (1)-(2)
  • Contact Lists – By Issue
  • Contact Lists –By State: Alabama through Florida
  • Contact Lists –By State: Georgia through Louisiana
  • Contact Lists –By State: Maryland through New Jersey

Box 5 - General Subject File

  • Contact Lists –By State: New York
  • Contact Lists –By State: North Carolina through Washington
  • Contact Lists –By State: Washington, D.C. through Wisconsin
  • Contact Lists –By State: States with No Listed Contacts
  • Contact Lists – Virgin Islands
  • Contracts (1)-(2)
  • Contracts – Market Opinion Research
  • Convention Coordinating Group (1)-(3)
  • Correspondence for Signature
  • Delegate Count Information
  • Delegate Count Information – Old Counts
  • Delegate Selection (1)-(2)

Box 6 - General Subject File

  • Delegate Task Force (1)-(2)
  • Democrat Presidential Watch (1)-(3)
  • Document Retention Program
  • Election Campaign Laws – Federal (1)-(5)
  • Election Campaign Laws – State: Alabama and Arizona
  • Election Campaign Laws – State: Colorado and Connecticut
  • Election Campaign Laws – State: Florida and Georgia
  • Election Campaign Laws – State: Illinois and Indiana
  • Election Campaign Laws – State: Kansas and Kentucky

Box 7 - General Subject File

  • Election Campaign Laws – State: Louisiana and Maryland
  • Election Campaign Laws – State: Michigan and Minnesota
  • Election Campaign Laws – State: New Jersey and New Mexico
  • Election Campaign Laws – State: North Carolina and Ohio
  • Election Campaign Laws – State: Pennsylvania and South Dakota
  • Election Campaign Laws – State: Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming
  • Election Night Reception
  • Endorsement Letters
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “Equal Time”
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Advisory Opinion 1975-27 Accountants and Attorneys Fees (1)-(4)
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Advisory Opinion 1975-72 Allocation of Candidate and Committee Activities (1)-(3)

Box 8 - General Subject File

  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Advisory Opinions, 09/1975
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Analysis of Federal and State Campaign Finance Law, 06/1975
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Compliance Actions (1)-(2)
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Compliance Procedures/Proposed Complaince Regulations
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Convention Regulations (1)-(2)
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Correspondence – 1975 (1)-(2)
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Correspondence – 1976 (1)-(3)
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Correspondence – 1977 (1)-(2)
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Correspondence – 1978

Box 9 - General Subject File

  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Delegate Selection/Advisory Opinion 1975-12 (1)-(5)
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Delegate Selection/Advisory Opinion 1975-12 - Summary
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) - Drafts
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Drafts – Advisory Opinion Request (AOR) 1975-72 (1)-(2)
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Drafts – Advisory Opinions
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Drafts – Guidelines in Connection with the 1976 Election Campaign
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Drafts – Presidential Primary Election Matching Fund
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Drafts – Title 2 Proposed Disclosure Regulations
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – General (1)-(2)

Box 10 - General Subject File

  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Independent Committees
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Independent Expenditures (1)-(5)
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Independent Expenditures Memo – State and Local Republican Parties
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Index of Actions, 1975
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Interest on Federal Funds
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – MUR 142(76) Advocate Travel
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – MUR 142(76) Advocate Travel – Democratic National Committee Complaint (1)-(3)
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – MUR 142(76) Advocate Travel – Democratic National Committee Complaint - News Clippings (1)

Box 11 - General Subject File

  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) - MUR 142(76) Advocate Travel – Democratic National Committee Complaint – News Clippings (2)-(3)
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Task Force on Allocation of Campaign Costs (1)-(4)
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments (1)-(2)
  • Finance Committee Accounting Manual (1)-(2)
  • Financial Operations
  • Ford Administration Staff Roster
  • Ford Presidency from an Ethnic Perspective
  • Fundraising Agreement with Republican National Committee (Milbank Material)
  • Fundraising Checklist

Box 12 - General Subject File

  • Gallaudet College
  • General Election Expenditures
  • Georgia Guide for County Chairmen
  • GOP Forum, Journal of the Republican Politics and Policy, 08/16/1976 – 08/19/1976
  • Hayes, Kathlene – Possible Claim against the President Ford Committee
  • Improper Suggestions from Delegates
  • Insurance – 1975 (1)-(4)
  • Insurance – 1976 (1)-(4)

Box 13 - General Subject File

  • Insurance – 1976 (5)
  • Insurance - 1977
  • Insurance – Martin, Edwin G. Claim
  • Insurance – State Inventory and Lease Agreements (1)-(6)
  • Insurance – Workmen’s Compensation (1)-(3)

Box 14 - General Subject File

  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Ruling Request
  • Leftover Campaign Funds (1)-(2)
  • Legal Memoranda (1)-(2)
  • Meeting Briefing Book, ca. 11/1975
  • Mongiovi, Arnita – Claim (v. Tower Construction Company) (1)-(2)
  • Mongiovi, Arnita – Claim (v. Whittaker, John)
  • Morton, Rogers C. B. – Complaint Regarding Appointment as Counsellor to the President (1)-(3)
  • Names and Addresses of State Chairmen and Volunteers (1)-(2)
  • National Associated Businessmen, Inc. (1)-(2)

Box 15 - General Subject File

  • National Republican Congressional Committee – President Ford Committee Agreement
  • New York Delegation Meeting Briefing Book, 07/22/1976 (1)-(2)
  • Official Candidate Filings (1)-(2)
  • Pennsylvania Reception Briefing Book, 07/29/1976
  • People For Ford
  • People For Ford – Tom Ruffin Report and Desk Reports (1)-(4)
  • Policy Statements
  • Political Action Committees
  • Political Activity by White House Staff
  • “Political Finance: Reform and Reality,” 05/1976

Box 16 - General Subject File

  • Practicing Law Institute (PLI) Seminar on Legal Aspects of Running for Public Office, 01/22/1976-01/23/1976
  • President Ford – General (1)-(3)
  • President Ford ’76 Factbook, 09/08/1976 (1)-(4)
  • President Ford Committee (PFC) – Accounting and Reporting Methods/Procedures (1)-(2)
  • President Ford Committee (PFC) – Background Material (1)-(2)
  • President Ford Committee (PFC) – “Delegate Special”
  • President Ford Committee (PFC) – General
  • President Ford Committee (PFC) – General Correspondence

Box 17 - General Subject File

  • President Ford Committee (PFC) – Incorporation (1)-(3)
  • President Ford Committee (PFC) –Lease Agreement with Tower Construction Company – Campaign Headquarters
  • President Ford Committee (PFC) – Lease Agreements (1)-(3)
  • President Ford Committee (PFC) – Newsletters (1)-(4)
  • President Ford Committee (PFC) – Presidential Account
  • President Ford Committee (PFC) – Records Inventory
  • President Ford Committee (PFC) – Strategy
  • President Ford Committee (PFC) – Violations
  • Presidential Travel (1)-(2)

Box 18 - General Subject File

  • Presidential Travel – Advisory Opinion 1975-72 (1)-(4)
  • Presidential Travel – Official (White House Press Releases of Presidential Remarks and Press Conferences) (1)-(5)
  • Presidential Travel – Party Head (White House Press Releases of Presidential Remarks) (1)-(3)
  • Presidential /Republican National Committee/Congressional Fundraising Letters (1)-(2)
  • Regional Coordinators
  • Republican National Committee (RNC) – Airplane for Vice Presidential Candidate

Box 19 - General Subject File

  • Republican National Committee (RNC) – Carter Compliance Actions, 09/1976
  • Republican National Committee (RNC) – Correspondence with State Committees Regarding Delegate Selection Process (1)-(2)
  • Republican National Convention – Budget and Expenses
  • Republican National Convention – Committee on Arrangements
  • Republican National Convention – Committee on Resolutions (Platform)
  • Republican National Convention – Conventions Rules Committee
  • Republican National Convention – Credentials Committee
  • Republican National Convention – General
  • Republican National Convention – Logistics
  • Republican National Convention – Meeting of the Committee on Rules of the Republican National Committee (RNC) in Kansas City, Missouri, 08/09/1976
  • Republican National Convention – Organization Chart
  • Republican National Convention – Preliminary Schedule
  • Republican National Convention – Program
  • Republican National Convention – Proposed Rules (Published), 08/17/1976
  • Republican National Convention – Rule 29 Committee
  • Republican National Convention – Rules (1)-(2)

Box 20 - General Subject File

  • Republican National Convention – Rules (3)-(4)
  • Republican National Convention – Rules – Briefing Book (1)-(2)
  • Republican National Convention – Rules – Ripon Society, Inc. v. Republican National Committee
  • Republican National Convention – Rules – Rule 16
  • Republican National Convention – Rules – Rule 18 (Justice Resolution) (1)-(4)
  • Republican National Convention – Rules – Rule 18 (Justice Resolution) – Memorandum of Law
  • Republican National Convention – Rules – Rule 18 (Justice Resolution) – State Election Laws
  • Republican National Convention – Rules Adopted (Published), 08/17/1976
  • Schedule of Appointments (1)-(2)

Box 21 - General Subject File

  • Southern States Republican Conference Briefing Book
  • Soviet Union Embassy File
  • Staff Lists (1)-(2)
  • State Campaign Chairmen – Lists (1)-(3)
  • State Campaign Chairmen – Meeting, 01/09/1976
  • State Lists – Book1: General – Kentucky (1)-(4)
  • State Lists – Book 2: Louisiana – Puerto Rico/Guam/Virgin Islands (1)-(3)

Box 22 - General Subject File

  • State Lists – Book 2: Louisiana – Puerto Rico/Guam/Virgin Islands (4)
  • Strategy Meeting Briefing Book, 09/07/1975
  • Use of White House for Candidate-Related Activities
  • Virginia
  • Virginia Briefing Book (1)-(3)
  • Virginia Challenge (Convention File) (1)-(5)
  • Volunteer Campaign Manual

Box 23 - General Subject File

  • Volunteer Legal Staff (1)-(4)
  • Windup Papers