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September 29, 1973 – Not enough we had Nixon and Watergate to weather through, we now had a scandal involving vice-President Spiro Agnew, which was not going to go away anytime soon.
Seems the issue stemmed from his time as Governor of Maryland, prior to his selection by then-candidate Nixon to be his running mate in 1968, of accepting bribes along with allegations of conspiracy, extortion and tax fraud. The bribes apparently followed him to the White House and, after the successful re-election of Nixon-Agnew in 1972, triggered an investigation by the Justice Department in early 1973, when all the discoveries were made. Prior to the scandal, Agnew had won popularity among conservatives as a tough Law-And-Order advocate, but his caustic remarks about the Press, higher education and the Youth of America won him an equal, if not greater number of enemies and detractors.
When the investigation got rolling, Agnew was adamant about his innocence, defiantly telling supporters he wouldn’t resign if indicted, that we would never resign. He expressed a willingness to cooperate, amid daily new discoveries added criminal activity.
Many felt this scandal served as a smoke-screen to the bigger issue; Nixon and Watergate, and anything to take the heat off the President was a welcome respite. But it also prompted many to believe corruption and criminal activity were rife at Pennsylvania Avenue and that Agnew was viewed as something of a sacrifice. Even though the Bribery, Extortion and Tax evasion issues had nothing to do with Watergate, it contributed to a general feeling of betrayal around the country, clearly evident in Nixon’s rapidly dwindling popularity.
But on this date, Agnew was still defiant, and still proclaiming his innocence. With days however, the tune would change, and within two weeks, Agnew would in fact, resign from office.
There was a lot of other news going on, this September 29, 1973 – but this episode of CBS Radio’s The Washington Week was on most everyone’s mind.