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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 most infamous incident related to the ratfucking techniques, besides the Watergate break-in itself, was the release of the "Muskie letters." 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). 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.
- All the President's Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward