Former Nixon aide Chuck Colson dies at 80

Chuck Colson speaks about his prison ministries program outside the West Wing of the White House, Wednesday, June 18, 2003. Colson is a former White House aide to President Nixon who went to prison for his involvment in the Watergate scandal. The Bush administration is hailing a new study indicating faith-based programs can help keep prisoners from returning to a life of crime. Colson,who helped found the initiative, says President Bush deserves credit for approving it as Texas governor despite church-and-state concerns. The program has since expanded to Kansas, Iowa and Minnesota.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(CBS News) Chuck Colson, a former aide to Richard Nixon, evangelical leader, author and nonprofit founder, died Saturday at the age of 80.

He passed away at a hospital in Northern Virginia, three weeks after surgery to ease intercerebral hemorrhage -- a large pool of clotted blood in his brain.

Colson was Nixon's special counsel and was part of the Watergate scandal which led to Nixon's resignation. He was known as the president's "hatchet man," and also served on Nixon's re-election committee, which plotted and attempted to steal information from the Democratic Party headquarters.

Colson pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and served seven months of a one-to-three year prison sentence.

Prior to the start of his prison sentence, Colson became a born-again Christian. After his release from an Alabama prison, Colson founded Prison Fellowship, a nonprofit organization that conducts outreach to prisoners to "seek the transformation of prisoners... through the power and truth of Jesus Christ."

According to his bio for Prison Fellowship, Colson formed the idea of Prison Fellowship when a fellow inmate told him "there ain't nobody cares about us. Nobody!" Colson started the organization and ran it for 33 years.

Jim Liske, CEO of Prison Fellowship, told CBS News that Colson continued to meet with top elected officials and leaders but "would rather be in prison embracing an inmate."

Colson wrote more than 30 books on religion and faith. In 1991 he founded BreakPoint, where he broadcast daily radio commentaries on news and politics "from a Christian perspective."

Colson never left the political scene, consistently advocating on behalf of conservative policies. He opposed abortion and same-sex marriage and supported the Iraq war. In 2008, President George W. Bush gave Colson the Presidential Citizens Medal.

Colson is survived by his wife, Patty, three children and five grandchildren.

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