Turns out we weren't quite paranoid enough. This Pando story by Mark Ames (read it quick, it goes behind the paywall in a few hours) describes what just might be the real story behind Watergate and the infamous CREEP slush fund (Committee To Reelect The President):
Nixon’s CREEP campaign operatives, including young Roger Stone, specialized in manipulating anti-establishment politics in order to help Nixon (and later, Reagan, Bush, and who knows who else). As I wrote about in my Roger Stone-Donald Trump article, the Nixon people in 1971 laid out a campaign strategy centered on exploiting and manipulating anti-establishment politics in order to destroy their real competition in the Democratic Party.
At the national level, that meant Nixon’s people cut a secret deal with Alabama’s segregationist governor, George Wallace, to run in the Democratic primaries as a far-right populist; and it meant pushing and funding candidates on the far left of the party, particularly black candidates like Shirley Chisholm and antiwar hero Gene McCarthy, to “exacerbate rifts” in the Democratic Party, and allow Nixon to sail to victory.
It worked with depressing efficiency. Nixon’s 1972 victory was one of the biggest landslides in American history.
According to a New York Times scoop, Nixon’s CREEP (Campaign to Re-Elect the President) operatives also brought their strategy to the state and local level. In 1971, the CREEP crew funneled $10,000 into California to try to keep George Wallace’s third party, the American Independence Party, off the California ballot for the 1972 presidential election (Wallace’s independent run in 1968 nearly lost Nixon the election). The effort to keep Wallace’s party off the California ballot failed—but, as I wrote, it didn’t really matter anyway, because Nixon’s people had worked out a sleazy deal with Wallace to run in the 1972 Democratic primaries and divide and depress the party… an effort that was cut short when Wallace was gunned down during a campaign rally, and paralyzed for life.
Other GOP operatives paid and infiltrated the left-wing antiwar party, the Peace and Freedom Party, specifically to undercut California’s Democratic Party candidates by running to the left of the Dems, splitting liberal and antiwar voters, thus helping Republicans to win races they’d otherwise lose.↓ Story continues below ↓
One of the main GOP-paid infiltrators in the Peace and Freedom Party in the early 1970s was Eric Garris—co-founder of Antiwar.com and a longtime Libertarian Party and Republican Party activist in the Bay Area. In the New York Times exposé, Garris freely admitted working with and taking money from a Republican operative in Sacramento. The Times reported that the scheme worked—several Democratic Party politicians lost races thanks to GOP-financed Peace and Freedom Party candidates. To show just how cynical the operation was, one of the Democrats targeted by the GOP and their Peace and Freedom Party infiltrators was Oakland Congressman Ron Dellums, perhaps the most radical leftwing antiwar Democrat in decades. (Dellums’ seat is now held by Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against Bush’s war resolution in 2001).
According to the New York Times article, “Leftist Group Says G.O.P. Aid Aimed At Democrats,” published in July 1973:
Members of the Peace and Freedom party, a left-wing splinter group in California, say they received secret funds from Republicans last year to finance some of their campaign and drain votes from the Democrats.
Go read it all, it's fascinating. And more than a little scary.