Former DNC Chairman Charles Manatt Dies

Posted July 23, 2011 at 8:10am

Updated: 10:19 a.m.

Charles Manatt, former head of the Democratic National Committee and founder of the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, has died at age 75 after an illness, the firm announced early Saturday morning.

Manatt served as chairman of the DNC from 1981-1985, and is widely credited with rebuilding the finances of the party, which had been decimated by Ronald Reagan’s landslide presidential victory in 1980. Manatt also played a key role in financing construction of the party’s national headquarters building in Washington, D.C.
 He later served as U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic from 1999 to 2001.

Manatt served as co-chairman of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. In a statement released by the firm, the Clinton said: “I am deeply saddened by the passing of Chuck Manatt. We were friends for 30 years, and I saw firsthand how he used his energy, intellect and common sense to help restore the Democratic Party after 1980, to make America more prosperous and just, and to make friends for our nation around the world.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said, “Chuck will always be remembered for his ‘beyond the call’ service to California and the Democratic Party. All of us who knew and loved him realize just how lucky we were to have Chuck lead our party and help our candidates.”

Founded in California in 1965, Manatt’s law firm has reported lobbying revenues of about $1.5 million each year since 2004, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The firm recently announced its intention to expand its Washington presence, hiring, among others, former Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.).