New memos detail Republican Frederic Malek's role in Nixon campaign against Jews

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 3, 2010

Frederic V. Malek, who is among Washington's wealthiest Republican power brokers, is discovering that even a single problematic episode in government service can be hard to shake.

As Malek assumes a widening role in national and Virginia politics, Democrats are calling attention to the recent disclosure of more memos that detail his part in carrying out President Richard M. Nixon's program to enforce ideological and religious purity.

Malek previously has been implicated in Nixon's crusade against Jews, and in 1988, he resigned from the Republican National Committee because of it. He has apologized for his involvement but always has denied playing a central part.

Now, the 22-year-old controversy has resurfaced, with Democratic lawmakers in Virginia complaining about Malek's appointment by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) as chairman of a panel studying the state budget deficit. McDonnell said he was unaware of Malek's role in the controversy.

Democrats say that documents recently posted on the National Archives Web site "raise new questions about Mr. Malek's involvement in targeting and removing Jews from their jobs," said Jon Vogel, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "As the chairman of the American Action Network, which has pledged to spend $25 million this year targeting Democratic members of Congress, Mr. Malek needs to answer the disturbing questions about his role and why these documents contradict his previous accounts." The American Action Network describes itself as a nonprofit group that promotes "center-right policies."

Malek did not return a phone call seeking comment, but Mark Corallo, a spokesman, said: "As Mr. Malek has said before, he has made mistakes in his life for which he has apologized, atoned and learned from."

In addition to chairing Republican Sen. John McCain's campaign finance committee in the 2008 presidential race, Malek is an adviser to former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Thirteen times in the past decade, he has written checks to Republicans for more than $20,000 apiece, and his total contributions over the past two decades exceed $1.03 million.

The documents about Malek's work as Nixon's special assistant are part of formerly restricted material from personal files that the Nixon library made public in January. A note posted on the National Archives Web site mentions Malek's reputation under Nixon as "the hatchet" because of his tenacity, and says the documents show that Malek "supplied Nixon with a list of thirteen people he thought had Jewish surnames" at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At the time, according to Nixon's Oval Office tapes and other official documents, the president was enraged by what he and his aides called a Jewish "cabal" at the bureau, and they blamed the group for making gloomy economic forecasts.

The memos suggest that Malek's role lasted at least from February to December 1971. In a February memo to Chief of Staff H.R. "Bob" Haldeman, for example, Malek described statistician Harold Goldstein, who he said had mishandled a news briefing, as "a competent civil servant" without partisan bias. But Malek added that "we might be better served if a Republican partisan handled these briefings in the future."

Haldeman responded with a request in March 1971 that "we take on and completely rearrange" the bureau, to which Malek responded that he had "a general plan of attack" to analyze the attitudes of all key people, including their "loyalties." Malek wrote on July 14 that "the temporary bad press and morale problem are small prices to pay for quickly transforming the BLS into a responsible and effective unit of this Administration."

On July 26, Malek aide Dan Kingsley sent Malek 13 names that included the people's age and length of service; he described them as "key" employees without mentioning the word Jewish. But Haldeman asked Malek that day for more information on the "demographic breakdown" of key bureau personnel. In a July 27 memo to Haldeman, which has previously been the subject of news reports, Malek responded that only one of 50 top personnel was a registered Republican and that "13 out of the 38 fit the other demographic criteria that was discussed."

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