Wednesday, October 10, 2007

October 10, 1973:

Agnew Resigns

Spiro Agnew was not, in fact, the first vice president to resign from that office. John C. Calhoun, the Seventh Vice President of the United States, did so toward the end of his second term, after the election of 1832, when his successor -- Martin Van Buren -- had already been selected. Calhoun was one of the great statesmen of his day, and quit the vice presidency after the South Carolina legislature voted to send him to the US Senate. Calhoun, along with his colleagues Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, was one of the "Immortal Trio."

Agnew, by contrast, quit the vice presidency after pleading no contest to a tax evasion charge. It turned out he'd been taking bribes since the early days of his career in Maryland, and continued to do so after becoming vice president.

According to Eyewitness to History: "Lester Matz and John Childs started their Maryland construction company in 1956. Located in Baltimore County, the prospects for their business changed for the better in 1963 when Spiro Agnew took office as County Executive. After an initial meeting with Agnew and a close associate J. Walter Jones, Matz began making payments to Agnew in exchange for receiving county building contracts. The payments equaled 5% of the value of the contract and were always made in cash delivered in an envelope prior to receiving the contract. Matz and Childs contributed significantly to Agnew's 1966 gubernatorial campaign and were rewarded with a continuation of their arraignment with Governor Agnew. The relationship continued when Agnew became Vice President.

"Matz and Childs were targeted early on in the Justice Department investigation of Spiro Agnew. The following is excerpted from the Justice Department transcripts of interviews with Lester Matz. Matz describes receiving a phone call from Agnew's associate J. Walter Jones and subsequently delivering a payment to the Vice President in his office:

" 'Sometime in 1970, or early 1971, Matz received a telephone call from Jones who advised him that there was an upcoming federal job that the Vice-President would control. This job would generate something in the order of $100,000 in fees, and Jones advised Matz that a payment would be necessary. This job was the (blacked out) and Matz wanted it to go to (blacked out). The job was awarded to (blacked out). He then approached his partner in (blacked out) for the purpose of advising him that he (Matz) had committed them to make a 5% payment to Mr. Agnew, (blacked out) finally agreed to contribute $1,000.

'Matz arranged an appointment with Mr. Agnew and Jones in the Vice-President's office in Washington. He then arranged to meet with (blacked out) in Washington just before his appointment with the Vice-President. Matz met with (blacked out) across the street from the EOB (Executive Office Building) and there received from (blacked out) $1,000 in cash. Matz added $1,500 in cash and placed the entire sum in an envelope which he took with him to his meeting with Jones and the Vice-President. (blacked out) has been interviewed and confirms Matz's recollection of these events. We have the check by which he generated the $1,000...' "

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