What Was CREEP?

A Look at the Watergate Scandal

Richard Nixon, Thirty-Seventh President of the United States
Richard Nixon, Thirty-Seventh President of the United States. Public Domain Image from the NARA ARC Holdings

CREEP was actually officially designated CRP and stands for the Committee to Reelect the President (President Nixon). CRP was the fundraising organization for Richard Nixon's reelection campaign in 1972. The key members of CRP were as follows: 

  • John N. Mitchell - Campaign Director

  • Jeb Stuart Magruder - Deputy Campaign Manager

  • Maurice Stans - Finance Chairman

  • Kenneth H. Dahlberg - Midwest Finance Chairman

  • Fred LaRue - Political Operative

  • Donald Segretti - Political Operative

  • James W. McCord - Security Coordinator

  • E. Howard Hunt - Campaign Consultant

  • G. Gordon Liddy - Campaign Member and Finance Counsel

Before April 7, 1972, there was no law requiring a campaign to disclose the names of individual donors to political campaigns. Therefore, the amount of money and individuals donating that money to CRP was a tightly held secret. In addition, corporations were secretly and illegally donating money to the campaign. Theodore Roosevelt had previously pushed through this prohibition of corporations donating money back in 1907. President Nixon's secretary, Rose Mary Woods, kept the list of donors in a locked drawer. It actually became known as Rose Mary's Baby. This list was not revealed until Fred Wertheimer, a campaign finance reform supporter forced it into the open through a successful lawsuit. Visitors can see this secret list at the National Archives where it is held today with other Watergate papers.

 

Dirty Tricks and CRP

In the Watergate Scandal, political operative Donald Segretti was in charge of the many "dirty tricks" carried out by the CRP. These acts included the break-in at Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office, the investigation of reporter Daniel Schorr, and plans by Liddy to have newspaper columnist Jack Anderson killed.

Daniel Ellsberg had been behind the leak of the Pentagon Papers that had been published by the New York Times. According to Egil Krogh in an op-ed piece in the New York Times printed in 2007, he was charged along with others to carry out a covert operation that would uncover the state of Ellsberg's mental health in order to discredit him by stealing notes about him from Dr. Lewis Fielding's office. According to Krogh, the break in which found nothing about Ellsberg was done in the name of national security. 

Anderson was also a target due to his exposing classified documents that showed that Nixon was secretly selling arms to Pakistan in their war against India in 1971. Anderson had long been a thorn in Nixon's side. The plot to discredit him was widely known after the Watergate scandal erupted. However, the plot to possibly assassinate him was not verified until Hunt confessed on his deathbed. 

One of the five men arrested and convicted of burglarizing the Democratic headquarters in the Watergate Hotel (James W. McCord, Jr.) was Chief of Security for CRP. It was later found out that McCord received payments from the committee. Further, $500,000 of CRP funds were used for lawyer's fees to represent the five Watergate burglars.

When this connection was discovered, the crime was definitively linked back to the White House, igniting the scandal that would eventually lead to the resignation of Richard Nixon. 

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Kelly, Martin. "What Was CREEP?" ThoughtCo, Jun. 13, 2017, thoughtco.com/what-was-creep-105479. Kelly, Martin. (2017, June 13). What Was CREEP? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-was-creep-105479 Kelly, Martin. "What Was CREEP?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-was-creep-105479 (accessed December 15, 2017).