Jeb Stuart Magruder
Born: November 5, 1934
Died: May 11, 2014
Jeb Stuart Magruder was an American businessman and political operative in the Republican Party when he joined the administration of President Richard Nixon in 1969. He published two books about his political career and faith journey, attended divinity school, and became an ordained Presbyterian minister in 1981. He served the church for the remainder of his life.
He served Nixon in various capacities, including helping manage the president's highly successful 1972 re-election campaign. During that time, Magruder became involved in the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s. As a Deputy Director of Richard Nixon's Committee for the Re-Election of the President, Magruder pleaded guilty to conspiracy and served time in a federal prison for his actions. Magruder was the second official in the administration of President Richard Nixon to plead guilty to charges of burglarizing the Watergate complex. In 1974 he published an account of the Watergate affair.
In prison Magruder reconnected with his faith; afterward he attended divinity school and became ordained as a Presbyterian minister. He was called to serve in several parishes, including as chief minister in a Lexington, Kentucky church. During these years, Magruder also spoke publicly about ethics and his role in the Watergate scandal. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he gave interviews in which he changed his accounts of actions by various participants in the Watergate coverup; some of his assertions have been challenged.
Business and Politics
In the late 1950s, Magruder moved to Kansas City in a transfer for work. He became involved there as a campaign manager for the Republican Party during the 1960 election campaign, working as chairman of an urban ward.
Magruder moved to Chicago for his MBA studies. Afterward he shifted from IBM to the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. In Chicago he remained involved with the Republican Party. His first major political job was managing the successful 1962 primary campaign of Donald Rumsfeld for the Republican nomination to the United States House of Representatives, preparing for the election in Illinois' 13th congressional district. Rumsfeld won the primary and the seat in Congress.
In 1962 Magruder moved from Booz Allen Hamilton to Jewel, a regional grocery firm. During his nearly four years with them, he was promoted to merchandise manager.
Magruder became involved with the Illinois organization of the Barry Goldwater presidential campaign in late 1963, but became disillusioned with Goldwater's political views. He worked briefly as campaign manager for Richard Ogilvie's 1966 campaign for president of the Cook County Board of Supervisors. The political workload, combined with work pressures, caused Magruder to end employment with Jewel.
He relocated to California in mid-1966, to begin a higher level job with the Broadway Stores company. Magruder's next political involvement started in mid-1967, when he served as Southern California coordinator for the Richard Nixon presidential campaign. He left early in 1968 due to internal organizational problems.
Magruder entered partnership during early 1969 with two other entrepreneurs to start two new businesses, and became president and chief executive officer of these firms.
Joins White House Staff
Magruder, while working in Los Angeles as a business executive, was approached through Republican acquaintances and asked to interview to join the White House staff. He was appointed to the White House staff in 1969 at age 34, as Special Assistant to the President. Like some other private sector executives, he took a pay cut to join public service. He moved with his family to Washington, D.C. He worked for Nixon operatives H.R. Haldeman and Herbert G. Klein, Communications Director for the Executive Branch. Magruder's formal title was Deputy Director of White House Communications.
Committee to Re-elect the President
Magruder served in the White House until the spring of 1971, when he left to manage the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CRP, also known as CREEP), first as Director. By early 1972 in the election year, Attorney General John N. Mitchell took over as director of CREEP and Magruder acted as his deputy. As Mitchell became preoccupied with a scandal involving the ITT Corporation and by the illness of his wife Martha, Magruder took on more of the management of the CREEP.
The campaign to re-elect the President was extraordinarily successful, winning 49 of 50 states; Nixon lost only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia to Democrat George McGovern. The final tally of Nixon's victory was 520 to 17 electoral votes, the second largest Electoral College (United States) margin in history up until then, after Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1936 victory over Alf Landon, (523 to 8).
Manages 1973 Inaugural
Magruder worked as Inaugural Director from October 1972 to arrange Richard Nixon's United States presidential inauguration ceremony and celebration in January 1973. In March 1973, he began a job as Director of Policy Planning with the United States Department of Commerce. He resigned soon afterward, as the Watergate scandal began to heat up and become scrutinized again by media following James McCord's disclosures of perjury during the original Watergate trial of the five burglars; the former Watergate burglar wrote about this to the Washington Star.
Magruder, in his role with CREEP, became involved with the Watergate matters from an early stage, in many aspects of the planning, execution, and cover-up.