Herbert W. Kalmbach
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Herbert W. Kalmbach
Herbert W. Kalmbach
Herbert Warren Kalmbach

(1921-10-19)October 19, 1921
DiedSeptember 15, 2017(2017-09-15) (aged 95)
EducationUniversity of Southern California (B.A., J.D.)
Known forWatergate figure
Political partyRepublican
Board member of(all past)
Chairman of the Board, Bank of Newport
Arizona Title Insurance Trust Company
552 Club of Hoag Memorial Presbyterian Hospital
Balboa Bay Club
Lincoln Club
Pacific Club

Herbert Warren Kalmbach (October 19, 1921 - September 15, 2017) was an American attorney and banker. He served as the personal attorney to United States President Richard Nixon (1968–1973). He became embroiled in the Watergate scandal due to his fundraising activities in the early 1970s, some of which supported undercover operatives directed by senior White House figures under Nixon. Kalmbach was convicted and served 191 days in jail for his part in the scandal, and lost his license to practice law for a time, although he was later reinstated.[1]

Education, early career

Kalmbach was born on October 19, 1921 in Port Huron, Michigan.[1] He earned both his undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Southern California, and was admitted to the bar in 1952. He was a real estate lawyer and founding partner of Kalmbach, DeMarco, Knapp & Chillingworth.[2][3]

Meets Nixon, political fundraiser

Kalmbach was introduced to Richard Nixon, then vice-president, by H. R. Haldeman in the 1950s.[4] He raised money for Richard Nixon's candidacy in the 1960 United States presidential election and again in 1968 United States presidential election.

Banker, becomes Nixon's attorney

Kalmbach declined Nixon's offer to appoint him Under Secretary of Commerce, choosing instead to remain in California and build up his law practice. He instead became the president's private lawyer. His law firm prospered during this period; it employed two lawyers in 1968, 14 in 1970, and 24 by 1973. The presidential connection drew United Air Lines, Dart Industries Inc., Marriott Corp., and MCA Inc. as clients. During this period Kalmbach founded the Bank of Newport, in Newport Beach, California. The firm performed routine legal chores for the President.

It was a shrewd choice. Kalmbach's solid but unspectacular career as a real estate lawyer was quickly touched with gold. Suddenly major clients from all over the nation were eager to sign up with the attorney who represented the President: United Air Lines, Dart Industries Inc., the Marriott Corp., MCA Inc. (the dominant producer of prime-time TV shows). National companies traditionally seek out lawyers who have friends and clients in high places in Washington, and Kalmbach's were very high indeed.[3][5]

Arranges private polling

Kalmbach was involved in a secret Nixon polling operation hidden from all but his closest senior advisors. Nixon used the poll results to shape policy and campaign strategy and manipulate popular opinion. On December 21, 1971, Kalmbach set up a Delaware shell corporation with private funding, to hide Administration sponsorship of polls.[6]

Joins 1972 re-election campaign

Kalmbach was also the Deputy Finance Chairman for the Committee to Re-elect the President. In this capacity he eventually was implicated in a fund-raising scandal involving re-election campaign contributions by Associated Milk Producers, Inc. (AMPI) and two other major dairy-farm cooperatives in connection with Nixon's support of an increase in price supports for milk in 1971.[7] Testimony by AMPI general manager George L. Mehrens in 1973 identified Kalmbach as a major solicitor of these contributions;[7] articles on Charles Colson's involvement in the AMPI scandal indicated that $2 million in contributions had been expected, but that the actual donations were nearer to $400,000, of which some $197,500 had been given by AMPI.[7]

Manages finances for undercover operations

Kalmbach handled a secret $500,000 fund to finance the sabotage and espionage operations of Donald Segretti.[8][9]

Convicted, jailed

Kalmbach was associate finance chairman of the 1968 Nixon for President campaign and was an unofficial fund-raiser for the Committee for the Re-election of the President, controlling several secret funds. Kalmbach served six months in jail and was fined $10,000 for operating an illegal campaign committee and for offering an ambassadorship in return for political support. He also handled a secret $500,000 fund to finance sabotage and espionage operations in the salary of Donald H. Segretti, a lawyer, whose job it was to discredit the Democrats. including $30,000 to $40,000 in 1972 alone for spying on Democrats.[10] Segretti was paid from re-election funds gathered before the April 7, 1972, cutoff point after which a new law required full disclosure of contributors;[11] Kalmbach told investigators in early 1973 that he had destroyed the contribution records prior to the April 7 date, violating the Federal Corrupt Practices Act, which required the records be maintained for two years and which expired only as of the new law's going into effect.[12] Kalmbach claimed in a later FBI interview that he had not known who was supervising Segretti nor what activities he was being paid to perform.[11][13] Kalmbach also raised $220,000 in "hush money" to pay off the Watergate burglars.[14][15]

But it was his raising of $3.9 million for a secret Republican congressional campaign committee[16] and promising an ambassador a better post in exchange for $100,000 that led to his conviction and imprisonment for 191 days and a $10,000 fine.[17] Kalmbach pleaded guilty on February 25, 1974 on one count of violation of the Federal Corrupt Practices Act and on one count of promising federal employment as a reward for political activity and support of a candidate. He was sentenced to serve 6 to 18 months in prison for the first count and 6 months in prison on the second count. He executed both sentences concurrently and was released from prison on January 5, 1975.[18] Kalmbach lost his license to practice law, although he was reinstated in 1977.[15][19]

Later life

Although he retired in the late 1980s, he remained of counsel to Baker Hostetler.[3][9] He died on September 15, 2017 in Newport Beach, California.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Herbert Kalmbach, Who Figured in Watergate Payoffs, Dies at 95". New York Times. September 29, 2017.
  2. ^ "Herbert Warren Kalmbach." Almanac of Famous People, 9th ed. Thomson Gale, 2007. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale, 2009. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC. Fee via Fairfax County Public Library, accessed 2009-04-24.
  3. ^ a b c "Baker Hostetler - Find Lawyers - Herbert W. Kalmbach". Costa Mesa, California: Baker Hostetler (law firm). Archived from the original on 2011-03-13. Retrieved . Herbert W. Kalmbach is Of Counsel to the firm. He has been involved in consulting assignments for a wide variety of clients.
  4. ^ All the President's Men, by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, New York, 1974, Simon & Schuster
  5. ^ "The Rise and Fall of Herb Kalmbach". Time. March 11, 1974. Discreet and studiously low-key, Herbert W. Kalmbach, 52, was the ideal lawyer to handle Richard Nixon's personal affairs. Like the President, he was a self-made and extraordinarily diligent man, both traits that Nixon admired in an aide. Above all else, Kalmbach was an unswerving and unquestioning loyalist.
  6. ^ Mike Mokrzycki. "Nixon Aides Ran A Covert Polling Operation," Los Angeles Times (AP), August 13, 1995; summarizing The Rise of Presidential Polling: The Nixon White House in Historical Perspective, Lawrence R. Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro, The Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 59, No. 2 (Summer, 1995), pp. 163-195 (article consists of 33 pages), Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2749700
  7. ^ a b c New York Times News Service. "Nixon's lawyer listed as solicitor," The Dallas Morning News, January 11, 1973, page 5A.
  8. ^ United Press International. "A Watergate chronology," The Dallas Morning News, April 29, 1973, page 44A.
  9. ^ a b de Witt, Karen (June 15, 1992). "Watergate, Then And Now. Who Was Who in the Cover-Up and Uncovering of Watergate". New York Times. Retrieved . Herbert W. Kalmbach Nixon lawyer
  10. ^ United Press International. "Payment reported," The Dallas Morning News, March 8, 1973, page 2A.
  11. ^ a b United Press International. "Chapin, Segretti face grand jury," The Dallas Morning News, April 12, 1973, page 10A.
  12. ^ Seymour M. Hersh, New York Times News Service. "Donor list reported destroyed," The Dallas Morning News, May 4, 1973, page 1A.
  13. ^ New York Times Press Service. "Watergate jogs memory: Democrats recall strange election incidents," The Dallas Morning News, May 13, 1973, page 14A.
  14. ^ Larry Eichel. "The 'duality' that made the man: Richard Milhous Nixon, 1913-1994," Philadelphia Inquirer, April 24, 1994.
  15. ^ a b "Watergate figures! Where are they? What do they say?", Associated Press, June 14, 1982.
  16. ^ James R. Polk. "Top money manager: unpublicized fund-raiser may hold key for Nixon," originally in Washington Star, reprinted in The Dallas Morning News, February 3, 1972, page 2A.
  17. ^ Miller and Morris, "Donations flood a loophole," Los Angeles Times, October 11, 1992.
  18. ^ Stanley Kutler (ed.), Watergate: the fall of Richard Nixon, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2010), pp. 215-216
  19. ^ "The lives they lead now," Washington Post, June 13, 1982.

Further reading

  • Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 10: September, 1973-August, 1976. New York: H. W. Wilson Co., 1977.
  • Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 12: September, 1979-August, 1982. New York: H. W. Wilson Co., 1983.
  • Who's Who in America. 38th edition, 1974-1975. Wilmette: Marquis Who's Who, 1974.
  • Who's Who in America. 39th edition, 1976-1977. Wilmette: Marquis Who's Who, 1976.
  • Who's Who in the West. 14th edition, 1974-1975. Wilmette: Marquis Who's Who, 1974.

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