Despite the fact that the Watergate Hotel is more than a thousand miles away, Twin Cities attorney Marshall Tanick has been touring the metropolitan area this summer to give presentations on Minnesota’s connections to the notorious incident in American political history that contributed to the ouster of a sitting president.
Gerald Ford succeeded Richard Nixon, who left office in 1974 before being impeached by Congress. Jimmy Carter, whose vice president was Walter Mondale from Minnesota, then took office. Some people would connect Nixon’s mistakes to Mondale becoming president, but Tanick, who has bases in both St. Paul and Minneapolis, has looked into even more historical connections to the Watergate scandal.
Five men stormed into the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., early on June 17, 1972, igniting the controversy. The burglars, who were carrying sophisticated electronic and surveillance equipment, were apprehended by metro police after a security guard alerted them, but it would take two Washington Post reporters, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, and a congressional investigation to establish a connection between them and Richard Nixon.
According to Tanick, Minnesota served as the “ground zero” for the Watergate incident in several ways.
Born in St. Paul, Kenneth Dahlberg served in the Minnesota Air National Guard before founding Dahlberg Electronics, a division of what is now the hearing aid firm Miracle-Ear. Despite the fact that Dahlberg was not implicated in any wrongdoing, a check made payable to him was crucial in tying the Watergate affair to Nixon’s re-election campaign. Dahlberg served as the Committee to Re-elect the President’s (after known as CREEP) Midwest Finance Chairman during Nixon’s 1972 presidential campaign. Because it resulted in the identification of Watergate’s money-laundering plan, finding Dahlberg’s check marked a turning point in the inquiry.
Tanick remarked, “That check is what brought down Watergate.” “When Woodward and Bernstein learned about it, Watergate officially got underway. It had previously been considered a third-rate burglary and a nothingburger.
Later, it was discovered that Dwayne Andreas, chief executive officer of Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., was the source of Dahlberg’s check. Born in Worthington, Minnesota, Andreas.
An further link might be made to the late Minnesota congressman Clark MacGregor, who passed away roughly ten years ago. After serving from 1961 to 1971 as a Republican representative for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District, MacGregor worked for Nixon as a top aide and served as CREEP’s national chairman for the 1972 election.
Maurice Stans, a resident of Shakopee, served as the finance chairman for CREEP.
Former senior Nixon advisor Charles Colson eventually became the leader of the organization Prison Fellowship, which has been actively involved in prison reform in Minnesota. He was charged on March 1st, 1974, with attempting to cover up the Watergate break-ins.
According to Tanick, Watergate continues to resonate in the political psyche even 50 years after it occurred. He observed that some of the improvements resulting from the Watergate break-in include modifications to Minnesota laws governing political campaigns, privacy, employment, government accountability, and the conduct of attorneys in a recent edition of Minnesota Lawyer.
A year later, he continued, “the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, sometimes known as the state’s Freedom of Information Act, was adopted.” “A flood of state whistleblower laws that were established in the wake of Watergate” led to the creation of Minnesota’s state whistleblower statute, which wasn’t passed until 1987.
At 12 p.m. on September 13, Tanick will give a lecture to the public on his findings at the Minnesota State Law Library at the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul.
Other presentations are set for Monday at noon before a Brandeis University alumni club, July 5 at 10 am before a seniors group in St. Louis Park, August 24 at 8 am before the Edina Ham and Eggs Club, and August 24 at 10 am before a seniors group in Golden Valley.