A team of investigative reporters who gathered in Arizona to continue the work of murdered reporter Don Bolles has completed a 23-part series on the penetration of organized crime in the state.
According to the first two articles, published in some participating newspapers over the weekend, Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), his brother Robert, and a close friend condoned the presence of organized crime "through friendships and business alliances with mob figures."
The copyrighted stories, produced by Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc. (IRE), said the Goldwater brothers along with former state GOP Chairman Harry Rosenweig achieved national prominence "after growing in a web of relationships in Arizona, Nevada and California with important lieutenant of underworld financier Meyer Lansky.
Goldwater could not be reached directly for comment although he did speak to several reporters yesterday about the article and is expected to have a statement today. A Goldwater aide said the senator generally denounced the report as innuendo, much of it built on old material, and taken out of context and "in essence really a bunch of hogwasy."
Rosenzweig could not be reached for comment. Robert Goldwater, in a telephone call to Associated Press, denounced the account as "poppycock."
The debut of the 100,000-world series produced a mixed reaction from the 23 participating newspapers and news organizations. The Indianapolis Star and the Miami Herald, for example, began the series on schedule Sunday, but some others held back for varying reasons.
Bolles' own newspaper, the Arizona Republic, and the afternoon Phoenix Gazette said they had decided against running the entire series but will publish portions. Some of the material had been published previously, the Gazette said, and some that has not "contains statements and allegations for which the Republic and Gazette have not yet been able to obtain sufficient documentation and proof to justify publication.
Bolles, 47, a Republic reporter, was fatally injured June 2 when dynamite exploded under his car. One man has pleaded guilty and two others are waiting trial in the case, which has involved the names of prominent Arizona politicians and businessmen.
Team leader Robert W. Greene, an editor for Long Island's Newsday, and other members of the project, which eventually included 36 reporters, said it was undertaken not to solve Bolles' murder but to carry on his work as a final tribute.
The Washington Post and New York Times declined to participate at the outset.
Newsday said it would run "the whole thing," but edited and tailored for its readers. The managing editor of the Washington Star, Sidney Epstein, was quoted as saying the Star did not start the series Sunday because the stories needed tigthening and rewriting. The Chiacago Tribune said its editors had concluded that more checking was needed and that the series was "not ready for printing in the Chicago Tribune in its present form."