Brilliant political strategist, born-again evangelical Christian and convicted obstructor of justice Charles Colson, a pivotal player in President Nixon’s political life, passed away at Inova Fairfax hospital at the age of 80 on Saturday, after suffering a brain hemorrhage earlier this month.

Nixon hired Colson to work on his 1968 campaign, after Colson sent him a letter telling him how he could stage a political comeback after his loss in the 1960 presidential race. Nixon then invited Colson to conduct a strategy session with him. Years later, after Colson, who was referred to by some as Nixon’s “dirty tricks artist,” had helped Nixon get elected. He said he would “walk over my own grandmother” to get Nixon reelected.

While Nixon was in office, Colson acted as his self-described “hatchet man,” creating a list of politicians, journalists and activists thought to be threats to the White House, famously referred to as Nixon’s “enemies list.” Because of his role as “hatchet man,” during the Watergate scandal, Colson was convicted of obstruction of justice for performing illegal activities in order to discredit former Pentagon official Daniel Ellsberg, who was suspected of leaking information about the Vietnam War to major publications.

As he was being convicted, Colson went through a religious reawakening and plead guilty in order to, according to Colson, “shed my old life and to be free to live the new.” He spent about seven months in a minimum-security prison and, after being paroled in 1975, Colson became a leader in the evangelical movement and formed a prison fellowship ministry.

Colson lived in Naples, FL and kept an apartment in the Leesburg, VA area to stay close to the political action in D.C.

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