He was a man of modest tastes and modest means. Always in debt, he might take an occasional vacation to Ocean City at best, and purchase maybe four suits each year worth no more than $150 each. He had accepted small gifts from friends, to be sure, but never anything more than a pair of cufflinks.
That was how Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel portrayed himself in an interview with the Washington Post during his 1974 re-election campaign. The image he so carefully cultivated then-like so much else in his life has since been shattered.
Revelations and allegations both in and out of his corruption trial have depicted a governor kept by friends and rich businessmen in a style befitting the wealthy. Although an exact figure is difficult to determine, the total dollar value of gifts, benefits and vacations received by Mandel and his family since becoming governor is said to be close to half a million dollars.
Mandel has in the past confirmed that various persons regulated by the state or doing business with the state of Maryland have paid for his trips to Jamaica, San Juan, Florida, Lake Tahoe, Hilton Head Island and elsewhere since he became governor in 1969.
A 1974 honeymoon he took to Europe was financed a $10,000 loan funneled through a Mandel aide from a Cecil County real estate specualtor.
He has acknowledged taking deep sea fishing trips at the expense of the C & P Telephone Company and its lobbyist.
He has lodged several times at a luxury Florida condominium, Ocean Reef, at the expense of close friends and codefendants in the trial, according to testimony produced by federal prosecutors.
Members of his family have received about $7,800 worth of jewelry paid for by the same friends who get contracts from and are regualted by the state of Maryland, according to evidence at the trial.
His friends and codefendants have also allegedly bought suits costing as much as $375 for him as well as other articles of clothing.
They also included him, at a nominal fee, in an Eastern Shore land venture that prosecutors have valued at $45,000 for him.
The governor was also allegedly given a 4/9 interest in an office building owned by codefendants W. Dale Hess, Harry W. Rodgers and William A. Rogers.
Codefendant Irvin Kovens has acknowledged providing $155,000 worth of tax-free bonds to Mandel's first wife, Barbara, to help the governor reach a settlement in his 1974 divorce.
Hess allegedly helped Mandel procure a total of $54,000 in loans from the Pallottine Fathers Catholic order to provide lumpsum payments to Barbara Mandel as part of the divorce settlement.
Hess' insurance company, Tidewater Associates, has also paid premiums on a $100,000 life insurance policy on the governor with Marbara Mandel as the beneficiary, according to federal prosecutors.
Kovens agreed to guarantee the payment to Barbara Mandel of Mandel's obligations under the divorce agreement.
Even Mandel's legal fees in this trial, which are expected to total well over $250,000, will be partially covered by contributions from friends.
Prosecutors have alledged that Hess, Rodgers and Kovens provided Mandel with these benefits in exchange for the governor's help is getting state actions that would benefit their business interests.
Mandel has been caught in a long Maryland tradition he vowed he would break: the making of a governor by wealthy political confidants who then help take care of him with lavish gifts.
Mandel's predecessor, Spiro T. Agnew, who resigned as Vice President of the United States after pleading "no contest" to tax evasion charges stemming from alleged kickbacks he received, was also alleged to have received clothing and other personal assistance from his friends.
All the while that Mandel was leading secret life, he was publicly denying or attempting to cover up his gifts as they were discovered by the press.
When the January, 1975, Jamaica trip came to light, Mandel first claimed that it was a door prize he won at a Philadelphia charity auction. That explanation was refined to winning a prize only for the use of a private cottage.
He admitted, after it was discovered, that he had flown down to the islans on a private jet owned by Steuart Petroleum Co., A state-regulated firm then seeking permission to build a refinery in the state.
After further investigations by the press, it turned out that mandel had not even paid for the bids at the auction. A vice president for Steuart wrote the check and later admitted that he paid for the governor's two bodyguards.
"I think I'm entitled to my privacy," Mandel said when asked why he kept the trip secret. "Quite frankly, I have been through a very trying two years."
Those two years were a watershed in Mandel's personal and public life. He left his wife of 32 years, Barbara Mandel, and moved to an Annapolis hotel until the time he could marry "the woman I love," Jeanne Dorsey.
When he wed Jeanne in August, 1974, she said they had been secretly in love for 10 years, shattering another public impression of Mandel.
One month later, according to testimony last week, Mandel was at a private crab feast to pick up a $42,000 laundered check from the Pallottine Fathers Catholic order. It was a loan to cover his first divorce payment of some $39,000.
After the loan was discovered the archbishop of Baltimore held a press conference. Gov. Mandel, said Archbishop William D. Borders last June, had personally assured him that the loan had not been used fo r the divorce, a particularly sensitive issue in the Roman Catholic faith.
Earlier, he denied at a press conference that he had ever received money from the Pallottines either "directly or indirectly."
There have been other cases of misinformation from the governor.
He said that $8.000 listed on his 1973 tax return was money from an investment account at his former law firm. He then said it was legal fees from Hess. The prosecution in his case is alleging that the money actually was received from a secret partnership given him by his codenfendant Hess.
In 1973, a day after Agnew resigned and after he the former Vice President had explained how expensive it was to be governor, Mandel held a press conference and spoke on the same subject.
Yes, Mandel said, it was costly to be governor. He needed more suits, changes of clothing for official functions, and that was expensive. When asked who should pay for it, Mandel answered back: "Who should pay for it? . . . I pay for it."
By that time, he had already received most of the wardrobe that friends gave him.