Who Remembers the Watergate Scandal?
In continuation of our scandal series, we wanted to highlight one of the most infamous scandals in US history. The yardstick to which all other scandals are measured, and even named (example: Tom Brady’s deflated football scandal was named “deflate-gate” by the media).
Sometimes election shenanigans end up being front page news, as happened in the 1972 campaign between incumbent Richard Nixon (R) and George McGovern (D). This scandal was considered the most notorious off all political scandals by pundits of the time. Here’s a chronological refresher on the Watergate Scandal:
- On 17 June 1972, at the height of the presidential campaign, five men were paid to break into the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. Their target was the office/HQ of the Democratic National Committee. Their paid objective allegedly was to steal DNC letterhead for use by Republican strategists, but that seems unlikely to have been the real reason for the break-in.
- Televised trials throughout 1973 revealed campaign fraud, political espionage, burglary and illegal wiretapping.
- On 10 Oct 1973, Vice-President Spiro Agnew resigned his office, then pleaded no contest to charges of tax evasion. He was also disbarred by the State of Maryland, and labeled “morally obtuse” by one source.
- Nixon’s appointment of long-time Congressman Gerald R. Ford to replace Agnew as VP would become significant.
- On 9 August 1974, rather than face impeachment by the House of Representatives and possible removal from office by the Senate, Richard M. Nixon resigned his office. Hence, Gerald R. Ford became the 38th President of the U.S.
- Watergate prosecutors offered companies that had given illegal campaign contributions to Nixon’s re-election campaign lenient sentences if they came forward.
By 1976, prosecutors had convicted 18 American corporations of contributing illegally to Nixon’s campaign. How many others were guilty? And how many foreign corporations contributed illegally? We’ll never know.
How deep do you think Watergate goes?