|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Indiana's 2nd district
January 3, 1969 - January 3, 1975
|Charles A. Halleck|
|Member of the Indiana Senate|
from Jasper County, Newton County, Porter County and Pulaski County
January 1, 1959 - August 30, 1968
|John Wilson Van Ness[dead link]|
|Charles Borromeo Kleinkort|
Earl Fredrick Landgrebe
January 21, 1916
Valparaiso, Indiana, U.S.
|Died||June 29, 1986 (aged 70)|
Valparaiso, Indiana, U.S.
|Resting place||Blachly Cemetery, Crown Point, Indiana|
|Spouse(s)||Helen Lucille Field|
|Mother||Benna Marie Broderman|
|Father||Edward William Landgrebe|
Earl Fredrick Landgrebe (January 21, 1916 - June 29, 1986) was an American politician and businessman who served as a state senator and United States Representative from Indiana as a Republican. During Watergate and the ensuing impeachment process he defended President Richard Nixon, which cost him his seat in the 1974 congressional election.
In spite of his defense of Nixon during Watergate, Landgrebe was criticized throughout his House career by his primary opponents for not being supportive enough of Nixon, only voting with other Republicans slightly over 50% of the time, and for his frequent absences and nay votes in the state senate and House of Representatives.
Earl Fredrick Landgrebe was born on January 21, 1916, in Valparaiso in Porter County, Indiana to Benna Marie Broderman and Edward William Landgrebe, a grocery store owner who would later serve as Porter County's assessor. He attended Wheeler High School near Valparaiso. He married Helen Lucille Field on July 12, 1936 and later had two sons with her. On June 9, 1943, he founded his transportation business, Landgrebe Motor Transport, with one truck using $2,100 in savings and would later grow his business to one hundred employees. In 1957 he was elected as president of Valparaiso's Chamber of commerce and was succeeded by Al Williamson following his election to the state senate in 1958.
On March 21, 1958, he filed to run in the Republican primary to succeed retiring incumbent John Wilson Van Ness for the Indiana Senate seat from Jasper County, Newton County, Porter County and Pulaski County and defeated Mayor John E. Wiggins and William A. Woodworth. In the general election he defeated Democratic nominee Maurice Mason. During his tenure he served on the Elections, Financial Institutions, Transportation, and Benevolent and Penal Institutions committees. In 1961 he introduced the bill to create the Indiana Port Authority to oversee the creation of seaports along Lake Michigan. During the 1960 presidential election he supported vice president Richard Nixon and on April 21, 1960, he was appointed as the Porter county chairman in the Indiana Committee for Nixon by Porter County Republican Chairman Bill Conover.
In 1962 the Supreme Court ruled in Baker v. Carr that the 14th Amendment applies to state apportionment and that federal courts are open to lawsuits challenging state legislative districts leading to further lawsuits over redistricting. After Reynolds v. Sims the Indiana state legislature created a bill to reappropriate the districts and Landgrebe was the only Republican to vote against it alongside twenty two Democrats causing the bill to not pass.
In 1962 he announced that he would seek reelection and won the Republican nomination without opposition and he defeated Democratic nominee Ted Savich in the general election. On March 4, 1966, he announced that he would seek reelection to a third term and state representative Robert D. Anderson mounted a primary challenge against him, but Landgrebe narrowly won the Republican nomination with 4,617 votes to Anderson's 4,232 votes. In the general election he easily defeated Democratic nominee Richard Glen Percifield with 22,070 votes to 13,300 votes.
On March 6, 1964, he announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for governor of Indiana, but was overshadowed by other candidates in the race that included Lieutenant Governor Richard O. Ristine, State Treasurer Robert E. Hughes, and Secretary of State Charles O. Hendricks and during balloting at the Republican state convention he came in last place out of seven candidates with only one delegate compared to Richard O. Ristine's 1,212 delegates.
In 1965 he was reassigned Senate committee positions and was placed onto the Judiciary B, Legislative Apportionment, Public Safety, and Transportation senate committees although Landgrebe had little power on the apportionment committee due to eight of the eleven members being Democrats. In 1967 he was reassigned to the Labor, Roads, and Transportation senate committees.
His service in the state senate ended in 1968 when he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives. On March 1, 1968 he announced his intention to run for the Republican nomination for Indiana's Second Congressional District to succeed Charles A. Halleck who was retiring. Landgrebe won the Republican nomination following a primary recount with a plurality of 21.76% and only eighty votes more than Olyer U. Sullivan. He represented Indiana's 2nd congressional district during the 91st, 92nd and 93rd sessions of congress and was a member of the Education and Labor Committee and a ranking minority member on the Subcommittee on Government Operations and the Subcommittee on Agricultural Labor.
In 1970 Albert Harrigan, who was a candidate in the 1968 primary, and Donald W. Blue, the mayor of Lafayette, announced that they would challenge Landgrebe for the Republican nomination. Landgrebe was criticized for missing multiple votes and not being supportive enough of Nixon. He received his largest amount of support throughout his House career in the 1970 primary with 56.48% of the vote with the rest being divided between Harrigan and Blue. The Democrats fared well nationally during the 1970 House elections and Landgrebe narrowly held onto his seat by only 1,204 votes against Phillip Sprague. During the campaign Landgrebe spent $39,334 on his campaign and Sprague spent $57,918 on his campaign.
On March 23, 1971 the House of Representatives voted on the proposed Twenty-sixth Amendment which easily passed with 401 in favor and 19 against. Landgrebe did not participate in the vote on the amendment, but in the past he stated he was against lowering the voting age as the votes of 18 year olds would dilute the votes of older voters.
On November 9, 1971, Richard Boehning, the House Majority Leader of the Indiana House of Representatives, announced that he would challenge Landgrebe for the Republican nomination later citing his narrow victory in 1970 and him being the only member of Indiana's Republican delegation to refuse to join the Indiana section of the Committee for the Re-Election of the President. During the primary Landgrebe received the endorsement of fifty one member of the House of Representatives, although David W. Dennis was the only member of the Indiana state delegation to endorse him and Charles A. Halleck, who had served in the district before Landgrebe and House Majority and Minority Leader, gave his endorsement to Boehning. He narrowly defeated Boehning with 34,813 votes for 54.20% against his 29,417 votes for 45.80% of the vote. In the general election he easily defeated Purdue University professor Floyd Fithian by riding off of the coattails of Richard Nixon's landslide victory in the 1972 presidential election and in Indiana where he received 66.11% of the vote statewide against George McGovern and received 72,000 more votes than Landgrebe in the second congressional district.
He gained a reputation in Congress as a "colorful loner" with a unique brand of conservatism. He criticized Lyndon B. Johnson for reducing bombardment of North Vietnam in 1968 and initially supported the United States' invasion of Cambodia ordered by Nixon, but later came out against it and would rather have the United States invade North Vietnam. In 1972 he was arrested during an official visit to the Soviet Union to observe their education facilities due to him distributing Bibles which he did due to him being a devout Lutheran. In 1973 he became ill and was treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for ten days during which Nixon visited him.
He was a stalwart defender of President Richard Nixon throughout the Watergate scandal and during the Nixon impeachment hearings. When the House of Representatives voted to begin the impeachment hearings, 410 voted in favor and Landgrebe was one of the 4 who voted against. Even after the transcript of the "smoking gun" tape was released on August 5, 1974, documenting Nixon's complicity in the Watergate coverup, Landgrebe remained loyal and refused to listen to the tapes or read the transcripts. When asked about the damning tape transcript and the resultant rapid collapse of support for the president among Republicans in Congress and the likelihood that Nixon would be impeached, he said: "Don't confuse me with the facts. I've got a closed mind. I will not vote for impeachment. I'm going to stick with my president even if he and I have to be taken out of this building and shot." On August 9, 1974 when Nixon gave his televised resignation speech Landgrebe was one of 42 people in the White House during it. When the House of Representatives voted to accept the committee's report following Nixon's resignation it was 412 in favor and 3 against; the three opposed were Landgrebe, Otto Passman, and Sonny Montgomery. When the House voted on former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller's confirmation as vice president to President Gerald Ford, he was one of 30 Republicans to vote against him due to his "extreme liberalism".
He was named as one of the top "Ten Dumbest Congressmen" by New Times alongside Senators William L. Scott and Roman Hruska and Representatives William A. Barrett, Harold Donohue, Floyd Spence, Harold L. Runnels, John Rarick, and Joseph J. Maraziti. Landgrebe received a massive backlash from voters in his district for his support of Nixon and was resoundingly defeated in the 1974 election although this was the only time in his House career that he did not face a primary challenge. In the election he lost to Democratic nominee Floyd Fithian and only received 64,950 votes for 38.94% of the vote to Fithian's 101,856 votes for 61.06% of the vote. Fithian was the first Democratic candidate to win in Indiana's Second Congressional district since George R. Durgan in the 1932 elections when the Democrats also saw a landslide victory nationally.
Landgrebe would continue to support Nixon in the following decade with him stating "Show me an impeachable offense ... Compare it to the wonderful things for this country this man had done." during an interview in 1984.
After his defeat, Earl Landgrebe returned to his home in Valparaiso where he owned and managed his transportation business. In February 1980, the Machinist Union was on strike at the Union Rolls Corporation in Valparaiso, Indiana. In the past he would personally deliver through the picket line such as in 1961 when as a state senator he made a delivery to a pool company plant that was experiencing a strike. The former congressman personally confronted picketers with a tractor trailer this time as well and on February 13 he completed two trips into the Union Rolls plant to pick up and haul away merchandise. Both times, the Union unsuccessfully tried to prevent his entrance into the plant, but on a third trip later that day, he was unable as union members surrounded the truck and swung clubs, broke mirrors, and shattered glass. Landgrebe was showered with broken glass and a local sheriff had to break up the incident.
On June 29, 1986, he died at home from a heart attack at age 70 and was buried in Blanchly Cemetery. Richard Nixon later released a statement praising him for his loyal support on July 1 and sent a representative to Landgrebe's funeral.
His defeat in 1974 ended forty years of Republican control in the second district and Democrats would be elected to the district until David M. McIntosh's victory during the Republican wave in the 1994 elections and since then Joe Donnelly has been the only Democrat to be elected from the second district. In 2019 Jake Tapper compared Senator Lindsey Graham to Landgrebe over his position on Trump's actions in Ukraine and the Congressional impeachment inquiry into it.
Landgrabe stated that the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia was proof that the Cold War could not be 'thawed'. When the USS Pueblo was captured by North Korea in 1968 he supported sending a forty eight hour ultimatum that would threaten nuclear warfare unless all of the Americans were returned. In 1972 the House of Representatives voted to approve the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union that had a "freeze" on offensive missiles for five years. The vote in the House 329 in favor and 7 against with Landgrebe as one of the seven nays.
He opposed the continuation of the Vietnam War, but only supported ending it with an American victory and during his 1968 House campaign he supported ending all foreign aid to North Vietnam. He initially supported the invasion of Cambodia, but later criticized it and instead supported a direct invasion of North Vietnam. He supported Nixon's Peace with Honor plan and cited his ending of the wars in Southeast Asia as one of the reasons he remained loyal to Nixon during the Watergate scandal.
While a member of the Indiana state senate Landgrebe voted supported right to work laws and voted against a law that would have made racial segregation in state public schools illegal. Landgrebe was against Indiana's state Civil Rights Commission and stated that "if we need a 12-man commission to protect the rights of Negroes, who represent maybe 12 percent of our state population, then why not have a much bigger group to see that the Negroes don't discriminate against us?". He also described himself as a law and order politician and criticized the Supreme Court for its ruling on law enforcement subjects.
He was against the legalization of drugs and supported giving the death penalty to non-addicted drug dealers. He supported the "Dangerous Substances Bill" which gave drug dealers sentences from five years to life imprisonment and a mandatory fine of $50,000.
In 1972 he refused to answer a survey conducted by consumer activist Ralph Nader on the United States Congress and referred to him as an "upshot Johnny-comelately" despite multiple attempts by Nader representatives to convince him to take the survey.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
Charles A. Halleck
| U.S. Representative of Indiana's 2nd Congressional District