Agnew, Spiro Theodore



Invitation, 01/18/1973 7 x 4 Red Inaugural Reception ticket Number 2521 plus blank invite/RSVP 4 1/2 x 7

"Spiro Theodore Agnew (November 9, 1918 - September 17, 1996) was the 39th Vice President of the United States (1969-1973), serving under President Richard Nixon, and the 55th Governor of Maryland (1967-1969). He was the first Greek American to hold these offices.

During his fifth year as Vice President, in the late summer of 1973, Agnew was under investigation by the United States Attorney's office in Baltimore, Maryland, on charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery and conspiracy. In October, he was formally charged with having accepted bribes totaling more than $100,000 while holding office as Baltimore County Executive, Governor of Maryland, and Vice President of the United States. On October 10, 1973, Agnew was allowed to plead no contest to a single charge that he had failed to report $29,500 of income received in 1967, with the condition that he resign the office of Vice President. Nixon replaced him by appointing by then House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford to the office of Vice President.

Agnew is the only Vice President in United States history to resign because of criminal charges. Ten years after leaving office, in January 1983, Agnew paid the state of Maryland nearly $270,000 as a result of a civil suit that stemmed from the bribery allegations.

On October 10, 1973, Spiro Agnew became the second Vice President to resign the office. Unlike John C. Calhoun, who resigned to take a seat in the Senate, Agnew resigned and then pleaded no contest to criminal charges of tax evasion, part of a negotiated resolution to a scheme wherein he was accused of accepting more than $100,000 in bribes19 during his tenure as governor of Maryland. Agnew was fined $10,000 and put on three years' probation. The $10,000 fine covered only the taxes and interest due on what was "unreported income" from 1967. The plea bargain was later mocked by former Maryland Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs as "the greatest deal since the Lord spared Isaac on the mountaintop". Students of Professor John F. Banzhaf III from the George Washington University Law School, collectively known as Banzhaf's Bandits, found four residents of the state of Maryland willing to put their names on a case and sought to have Agnew repay the state $268,482-the amount it was said he had taken in bribes. After two appeals by Agnew, he finally resigned himself to the matter and a check for $268,482 was turned over to Maryland State Treasurer William S. James in early 1983.

As a result of his no-contest plea, the State of Maryland later disbarred Agnew, calling him "morally obtuse". As in most jurisdictions, Maryland lawyers are automatically disbarred after being convicted of a felony, and a no contest plea exposes the defendant to the same penalties as a guilty plea.

His resignation triggered the first use of the 25th Amendment, as the vacancy prompted the appointment and confirmation of Gerald Ford, the House Minority Leader, as his successor. It remains one of only two times that the amendment has been employed to fill a Vice Presidential vacancy. The second time was when Ford, after becoming President upon Nixon's resignation, chose Nelson Rockefeller (originally Agnew's mentor in the moderate wing of the Republican Party) to succeed him as Vice President. Had Agnew remained as Vice President when Nixon resigned just 10 months later, Agnew himself would have become the 38th President, as well as a strong candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976, both of which instead went to Ford."