Martin F. Dardis, 83; Investigator Linked Watergate Burglars to NixonFrom Times Staff and Wire Reports
May 19, 2006
Martin F. Dardis, the Florida investigator whose probe of the crisp $100 bills found on the Watergate burglars provided a vital link to President Nixon's reelection campaign, has died. He was 83.
Dardis died Tuesday of a vascular condition at a nursing home in Palm City, Fla., his daughter Erin Dardis told the Associated Press.
Just weeks after the burglary at Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate building in Washington, D.C., Dardis got a tip that the currency the men had been carrying came from the Miami branch of the Federal Reserve Bank.
Dardis, then the chief investigator for Dade County State Atty. Richard Gerstein, made some inquiries at the Federal Reserve and found that the bills came from a branch of the Republic Bank in Miami.
He subpoenaed the bank's records for Bernard L. Barker, one of the Watergate burglars who lived in Miami and had worked for the CIA during the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. The records showed two accounts that contained five cashier's checks totaling more than $114,000. Four of the checks came from a Mexico City bank, but the fifth check — for $25,000 — came from a Boca Raton bank and was from Kenneth H. Dahlberg.
The fifth check proved to be the key link to Nixon's reelection apparatus, as Dahlberg turned out to be a longtime Nixon loyalist and fundraiser who served as director of his Midwestern campaign in the 1968 election.
Some weeks later, Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post went to Miami to meet with Dardis and review what he had found through his subpoena. Dardis showed him the bank records and pointed out the Dahlberg connection but didn't know who he was.
Bernstein and his colleague Bob Woodward followed the trail to Dahlberg, who said he gave the check to officials of the Nixon reelection campaign. It was the first direct link between the Watergate break-in and funds donated to Nixon's presidential campaign.