The School for Ethics and Global Leadership

Nixon White House Official Bud Krogh Visits SEGL for Master Class

Date: Feb 17nd, 2011

Each semester several of our most distinguished guest experts teach “Master Classes” to our students.  Former Nixon White House official Egil “Bud” Krogh taught our first Master Class of the semester (taught in two parts) last week.

Bud, who is one of a handful of speakers to meet each SEGL class, famously served as the Director of Nixon’s infamous White House “Plumbers,” whom the President charged with “plugging” the Pentagon Papers “leak.”  Bud authorized the break-in at Dr. Lewis Fielding’s office, a decision that many historians feel led directly to Watergate and the downfall of the Nixon Administration.

Each semester, students are amazed to find Bud so down-to-earth, reflective, and inspiring.  In the wake of the break-in, Bud pleaded guilty (one of a very small number of Nixon officials to do so) and served time in jail.  Since then, he has worked extensively to promote ethics in government.  He is now Senior Fellow and Chair, Leadership and Ethics at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.

Bud is a master storyteller, and he began on Wednesday with an anecdote about the day Elvis Presley visited the White House.  The details are hilarious and engaging, and Bud powerfully connects the story (and several others, which deal with everything from the fat
content of the American hot dog to a racist Supreme Court nominee) to his time with the Plumbers.  (Are you willing to stand up against “groupthink” and peer pressure to say something that is right?  How much research must you do before making a decision?)  He introduced “The Integrity Zone,” his own ethical framework for evaluating ethical choices.

Later that day, we visited with Michael Kerrigan, an experienced lobbyist and author of Politics with Principle: Ten Characters with Character.  Kerrigan shared some thoughtful words about his research and then took questions from students.  Several students asked him to explain his representation of the tobacco industry (he also represented Ticketmaster in its fight with the rock band Pearl Jam), and a vigorous exchange followed.  He left each student with a complimentary copy of his book.

On Friday, Bud returned to walk the students through an extraordinary real-life case study involving the American Indian takeover and occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1972 (just days before the Presidential election).  Bud charged the students with responding to a volatile tinderbox (the American Indians had threatened to blow up the building and the Attorney General was ready to send in armed personnel who were surrounding the building).  After a robust discussion, Bud shared his ultimate decision–an inspired set of actions, to be sure.

See below for pictures from the week and a few additional pictures from last week’s lobbying simulation with staffers from Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) and Tim Ryan (D-OH).