John N. Mitchell

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John Newton Mitchell (September 15, 1913–November 9, 1988) was United States Attorney General under President Richard M. Nixon. He also served as Nixon's campaign manager in 1968 and in 1972. Due to his role as director for the Committee to Re-elect the President, which engineered the Watergate first break-in, he became the only US Attorney General ever to be convicted of illegal activities.



Early life

Mitchell was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up on Long Island in New York. He earned his law degree from Fordham University School of Law and was admitted to the New York bar in 1938. He served for three years as a naval officer (Lieutenant, Junior Grade) during World War II where he was a PT boat commander; his duties included commanding John F. Kennedy's PT boat unit. He received two Purple Hearts for wounds in combat and the Silver Star.

Except for his period of military service, Mitchell practiced law in New York City from 1938 until 1968 and earned a reputation as a municipal bond lawyer.

New York government

Mitchell devised a type of revenue bond called a “moral obligation bond" while serving as bond counsel to New York’s Governor Nelson Rockefeller in the 1960s. In an effort to get around the voter approval process for increasing state and municipal bond limits, Mitchell attached language to the offerings that indicated the state’s intent to meet bond payments even though it was not obligated to do so.[1]. He didn't deny it when asked in an interview if the intent was to create a “form of political elitism that bypasses the voter’s right to a referendum or an initiative”[1][2].

Political career

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