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"Ratfucking" was a term used by Richard Nixon's campaign insiders to describe electoral fraud and dirty tricks they used against their opponents. The term was coined by political operative Don Segretti, who claimed it had come from his college days when he stuffed ballot boxes for student government candidates. Segretti was hired by the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP) to work his ratfucking magic for Nixon in the 1972 elections and funded by laundered money coming in through CREEP slush funds. Segretti and a number of other ratfuckers worked from CREEP to destroy the campaigns of Democratic opponents. Their methods included distributing faked letter and press releases, astroturfing "activists" and "protestors," disrupting political conferences using the old "order a hundred pizzas in someone else's name" trick, vote contracting (literally paying people for votes), espionage tactics, and general dickery. One of the ratfuckers happened to be Karl Rove, who was the head of the College Republicans at the time. The term first came to general public attention with the publication of the book All the President's Men in 1974.
The most infamous incident related to the ratfucking techniques, besides the Watergate break-in itself, was the release of the "Muskie letters.":127-128 CREEP members had gotten hold of Senator Edmund Muskie's letterhead and started "leaking" letters ostensibly addressed to other Democrats insulting various other Congressmen. One of the Muskie letters, called the "Canuck letter," implied that Muskie was bigoted toward Americans of French-Canadian descent (Muskie was from Maine).:127-128 This FUD campaign reached its heights right in the middle of the 1972 primaries and Muskie's campaign imploded after his speech denying his authorship of the letters. The Muskie letters were ultimately the starting point that led Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward to begin to unravel the Nixon campaign's ratfucking methods and uncover the Watergate break-in.
In the United States Armed Forces, particularly the Marine Corps, the verb "to ratfuck" means to steal or disorganize items that do not belong to you. Originally it meant someone who stole all the candy from the rations. Considering that the military ration, the MRE ("Meal, Ready to Eat"), is called by a number of nicknames ranging from "Meals Rejected by Ethiopians" to "Massive Rectal Expulsion", taking the one thing to look forward to in them is a cardinal sin.
Known and accused rat fuckers
- Dwight Chapin — Deputy Assistant to Nixon
- China, according to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
- Chuck Colson
- H. R. Haldeman — White House Chief of Staff under Nixon
- G. Gordon Liddy
- Scott Pruitt — climate change denialist and kleptocrat EPA administrator for a year under Trump
- Karl Rove
- Don Segretti
- Roger Stone
- Donald Trump, implied by Ted Cruz
- Jacob Wohl
- Ron Ziegler — White House Press Secretary under Nixon
- RationalWiki—just kidding.
- All the President's Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward (1974 ) Simon & Schuster. Reissue edition. ISBN 1476770514.
- We need to talk about Kevin ... Rudd, that is (7 June 2010 — 9:48am) Sydney Morning Herald.
- Scott Pruitt Personally Involved in ‘Ratf*cking’ Ex-Aides Who He Feels Betrayed Him: The EPA chief demands loyalty. He doesn’t always reciprocate, though. by Lachlan Markay & Asawin Suebsaeng (06.28.18 4:51 AM ET) Daily Beast.
- The Dirty Trickster: Campaign tips from the man who has done it all. by Jeffrey Toobin (June 2, 2008) The New Yorker.
- Ted Cruz Blames Donald Trump for 'Garbage' National Enquirer Story by Maya Rhodan and Philip Elliott (Updated: March 25, 2016 4:17 PM ET) Time.
- Jacob Wohl, ratfucker, has a no-good rotten day (November 2018) BoingBoing.