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Precedents

May 2, 1974


As self-appointed spokesman for the silent majority, Vice President Spiro Agnew vigorously lashed out at critics of the Nixon administration. His pugnacious speeches—served up with an alliterative flair—were as pithy as they were polarizing, leading many in the White House to wonder whether Agnew was more a liability than an asset.

That became a moot question after a Baltimore grand jury investigating political corruption linked him to various crooked deals spanning his tenure as county executive, Maryland governor and even as vice president. He avoided indictments on bribery and extortion by pleading no contest to a single charge of tax evasion. Agnew (pictured above shortly after the plea) resigned from office on Oct. 10, 1973—10 months before Nixon himself would resign in response to the Watergate investigation.

Describing him as “morally obtuse,” the Maryland Court of Appeals disbarred Agnew in May 1974. In the early ’80s, he repaid more than $268,000 in kickbacks and interest to the state as the result of a civil suit.

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