Sam Ervin

Sam Ervin

Samuel Ervin was born in Morganton, Burke County, North Carolina on 27th September, 1896. After graduating from the University of North Carolina he served in the First World War on the Western Front.

On his return to the United States he studied at Harvard Law School. In 1922 he began work as a lawyer in Morganton. Ervin eventually became judge of the Burke County criminal court (1935-1937) and judge of the North Carolina superior court (1937-1943).

A member of the Democratic Party he was elected to Congress on 22nd January, 1945. Ervin left Congress and in 1948 became associate justice of the North Carolina supreme court.

Ervin was elected to the Senate in November, 1954, after the death of Clyde R. Hoey. He served as chairman, Committee on Government Operations (92nd and 93rd Congresses). He was a strong opponent of the desegregation of schools and signed the Southern Manifesto in 1956. He also opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

On 17th June, 1972, Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker and James W. McCord were arrested while in the Democratic Party headquarters in Watergate.

The phone number of E. Howard Hunt was found in address books of the burglars. Reporters were now able to link the break-in to the White House. Bob Woodward, a reporter working for the Washington Post was told by a friend who was employed by the government, that senior aides of President Richard Nixon, had paid the burglars to obtain information about its political opponents.

In 1972 Richard Nixon was once again selected as the Republican presidential candidate. On 7th November, Nixon easily won the the election with 61 per cent of the popular vote. Soon after the election reports by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post, began to claim that some of Nixon's top officials were involved in organizing the Watergate break-in.

Frederick LaRue now decided that it would be necessary to pay the large sums of money to secure their silence. LaRue raised $300,000 in hush money. Anthony Ulasewicz, a former New York policeman, was given the task of arranging the payments.

Hugh Sloan, testified that LaRue told him that he would have to commit perjury in order to protect the conspirators. LaRue was arrested and eventually found guilty of conspiring to obstruct justice. He was sentenced to three years in jail but only served four months before being released.

In January, 1973, Frank Sturgis, E. Howard Hunt, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker, Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord were convicted of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping.

Richard Nixon continued to insist that he knew nothing about the case or the payment of "hush-money" to the burglars. However, in April 1973, Nixon forced two of his principal advisers H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, to resign. A third adviser, John Dean, refused to go and was sacked. On 20th April, Dean issued a statement making it clear that he was unwilling to be a "scapegoat in the Watergate case".

On 7th February, 1973, the Senate voted to create a Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities. Sam Ervin was appointed chairman of this committee. Other members included Daniel K. Inouye, Howard Baker, Herman Talmadge, Edward Gurney, Joseph Montoya and Lowell Weicker. Hearings took place between 17th May to 7th August and 24th September to 15th November.

On 18th May, 1973, Attorney General Elliot Richardson appointed Archibald Cox as special prosecutor, with unprecedented authority and independence to investigate the alleged Watergate cover-up and illegal activity in the 1972 presidential campaign.

The following month John Dean testified that at a meeting with Richard Nixon on 15th April, the president had remarked that he had probably been foolish to have discussed his attempts to get clemency for E. Howard Hunt with Charles Colson. Dean concluded from this that Nixon's office might be bugged. On Friday, 13th July, Alexander P. Butterfield appeared before the committee and was asked about if he knew whether Nixon was recording meetings he was having in the White House. Butterfield reluctantly admitted details of the tape system which monitored Nixon's conversations.

Alexander P. Butterfield also said that he knew "it was probably the one thing that the President would not want revealed". This information did indeed interest Archibald Cox and he demanded that Richard Nixon hand over the White House tapes. Nixon refused and so Cox appealed to the Supreme Court.

On 20th October, 1973, Nixon ordered his Attorney-General, Elliot Richardson, to fire Archibald Cox. Richardson refused and resigned in protest. Nixon then ordered the deputy Attorney-General, William Ruckelshaus, to fire Cox. Ruckelshaus also refused and he was sacked. Eventually, Robert Bork, the Solicitor-General, fired Cox.

An estimated 450,000 telegrams went sent to Richard Nixon protesting against his decision to remove Cox. The heads of 17 law colleges now called for Nixon's impeachment. Nixon was unable to resist the pressure and on 23rd October he agreed to comply with the subpoena and began releasing some of the tapes. The following month a gap of over 18 minutes was discovered on the tape of the conversation between Nixon and H. R. Haldemanon June 20, 1972. Nixon's secretary, Rose Mary Woods, denied deliberately erasing the tape. It was now clear that Nixon had been involved in the cover-up and members of the Senate began to call for his impeachment.

Peter Rodino, who was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, presided over the impeachment proceedings against Nixon. The hearings opened in May 1974. The committee had to vote on five articles of impeachment and it was thought that members would split on party lines. However, on the three main charges - obstructing justice, abuse of power and withholding evidence, the majority of Republicans voted with the Democrats.

Two weeks later three senior Republican congressmen, Barry Goldwater, Hugh Scott, John Rhodes visited Richard Nixon to tell him that they were going to vote for his impeachment. Nixon, convinced that he will lose the vote, decided to resign as president of the United States.

Ervin resigned from the Senate on 31st December, 1974 and resumed working as a lawyer in Morganton, North Carolina.

Samuel Ervin died in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on 23rd April, 1985.

Primary Sources

(1) Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina interviewed Carlos Marcello on 24th March, 1959.

Sam Ervin: "I would like to know how you managed to stay in the United States for 5 years, 9 months, and 24 days after you were found ordered deported as an undesirable person."

Carlos Marcello: "I wouldn't know".

Sam Ervin: "Those who have no claim to any right to remain in America, who come here and prey like leeches upon law-abiding people ought to be removed from this country."

(2) The Senate Watergate Report (1974)

Caulfield also talked with Ulasewicz about forming a private security business. Ulasewicz's assignments had declined as 1971 progressed, and Caulfield had often talked with Ulasewicz about entering private business when Caulfield left the government. Caulfield envisioned Ulasewicz as head of the New York office of the new corporation, with primary responsibilities for offensive intelligence-gathering. Ulasewicz subsequently rented an apartment at 321 East 48th Street (Apartment 11-C), New York City, that could be used as an office for the private detective agency.

In the late summer of 1971, Caulfield met with Acree, Barth, and Joe Woods for about two hours at his home to discuss the proposal .

Following the meeting, Caulfield told Dean of the group's plans, and Dean asked Caulfield to commit the proposal to writing. Caulfield then drafted the memorandum entitled Operation "Sandwedge". The document called for an offensive intelligence gathering operation which would be clandestinely based in New York and would be able to infiltrate campaign organizations and headquarters with "undercover personnel:" The offensive capability would also include a "Black bag" capability, "surveillance of Democratic primaries, convention, meetings, etc.," and "derogatory information investigative -capability, worldwide."

In addition, the memorandum outlined an operating cover for the entity. The new corporation would hire itself out to large Republican corporations, whose fees would finance the clandestine and offensive capability envisioned in the memorandum. Caulfield emphasized the clandestine nature of the operation: "The offensive involvement outlined above would be supported, supervised and programmed by the principals, but completely disassociated (separate foolproof financing) from the corporate structure and located in New York in extreme clandestine fashion."

Caulfield noted in the memorandum that Ulasewicz would head the clandestine operation in New York, claiming that "his expertise in this area was considered the model for police - departments throughout the nation - and the results certainly proved it." Woods would be in charge of the midwestern office of the new corporation, heading covert efforts and acting as liaison to retired FBI agents "for discreet investigative support" from the FBI. Mike Acree would provide "IRS information input" and other financial investigations that would help support the New York City operation.

However, earlier in his memorandum, on page two, Caulfield discussed a former FBI agent who was known as a "black bag" specialist while at the FBI. Caulfield acknowledged that the term "black bag specialist," means an individual who specialized in breaking and entering for the purpose of, placing electronic surveillance. In addition, Caulfield noted that the term "bag job" in the intelligence community meant a burglary for the placement of electronic surveillance. Thus it appears that the capability to which Caulfield was referring inn his "Sandwedge Proposal" was one of surreptitious breaking and entering for the purpose of placing electronic surveillance, quite similar in nature to the Gemstone Operation which ultimately evolved.

(3) Tony Ulasewicz (with Stuart A. McKeever), The President's Private Eye (1990)

Neither (Howard) Baker nor any other Senator asked me about the specifics of any of my investigations, although they must have known about them because (Terry) Lenzner had made a list of them for the committee. My financial records, including receipts for all my travel and lodging expenses, were also turned over to the committee. I was never asked about my trip to check out the offices of the DNC at the end of May, who asked me to go there, or who was behind that request. Caulfield's call to me the afternoon after the Watergate break-in was never explored, although John Dean was the man who had ordered the call to be made. I expected to be asked about my meeting with Dean when Caulfield was clearing out his office in the Executive Office Building. Again I wasn't. Dean, I concluded, was obviously being protected for star billing as a witness. No one asked me if I had any documents or White House memos about any of my investigations. While I had no intention of playing cute with anybody, I wasn't going to volunteer information unless I was asked for it. I wasn't asked about meeting "Mr. George" or hearing his off-the-wall intelligence plans for the campaign, or about Colson and the Brookings Institution, or about Simmons in Wisconsin. I didn't mind not being asked; I just didn't understand why I wasn't....

Baker asked me in general what my arrangement had been under the agreement I made with Ehrlichman in 1969, but when he asked me "of whom and about what" did I investigate, I didn't get a chance to open my mouth before Baker said, "Let me say this, Mr. Chairman. It is my understanding that Mr. Ulasewicz will once again return for further testimony in another category of testimony." I affirmed Baker's assumption and said, "That's correct." Baker then cut off the inquiry and said, "So we will abbreviate this inquiry at this point, with the full understanding that we can pursue that aspect of it later." Senator Weicker said. He wanted Baker to continue the line of questioning he started, but Baker ! responded that Committee Chairman, Senator Sam Ervin, whispered in his ear that "if we don't get on with this hearing, we'll still be here when the last trembling tones of Gabriel's trumpet fades into ultimate silence."