Less than a year after the Committee to Re-elect the President bought the machine in 1972, it became an embarrassment, an unfortunate symbol for political chicanery and a metaphor for the personality of the infamous campaign that spawned the Watergate scandal.
The machine was a paper shredder, a top-of-the-line Shredmaster Model 400. It cost Richard Nixon's campaign treaseury $2,205, and folks such as G. Gordon Liddy found it useful for disposing of evidence of political dirty work. Nine months after the shredder was delivered, someone called Whitaker Brothers Business Machines, Inc. -- where it had been purchased -- and asked that it be hauled away. Whitaker Brothers bought back the used behemoth from the Committee to Re-elect the President for $400.
Today the American flag sticker that campaign workers plastered to the front of the machine is still there, and the Shredmaster sits on the linoleum floor of Whitaker Brothers' pristine showroom on Georgia Avenue. The firm keeps a fiel of clippings about the machine's history but won't consider selling it. Owner Jim Whitaker says he's keeping as a historical curiosity the machine former Nixon campaign personnel director Robert Odle called, in Senate testimony, the "very famous, big paper shredder."