A national police intelligence network which received federal funds, kept intelligence files on political activists and others, and included officials of at least two California utilities in its meetings, according to records kept by the group and the FBI.
The files were kept on suspected political activists by the law Enforcement Intelligence Unit, a national police information network set up in 1966 to aid local and state police departments in keeping tabs on organized crime. The group numbers about 250 police departments across the country today and generally keeps a low public profile.
In the past, LEIU officials have testified before a congressional investigating committee that their organization keeps intelligence files only on organized crime figures. Officials said the group's bylaws restrict membership to police intelligence organizations and that the files are tightly controlled to prevent information from leaking outside its membership.
Civil rights activists and others have challenged the LEIU recently, claiming the organization spied on political activists and maintained intelligence files on persons not directly involved in organized crime activities - including opponents of nuclear power.
FBI documents obtained by a Chicago-based coalition of civil rights groups and other show that special agents of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Co. attended an LEIU meeting as a member in 1960 in San Francisco and that PT&T agents and representatives of the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. attended a similar meeting in Oakland in 1962.
Additional intelligence files, kept by LEIU and obtained by the Chicago coalition, also indicate that LEIU maintained intelligence files as late as 1976 on members of a black nationalist group, an Indian activist group and members of antiwar groups.
The files are scheduled to be made public at a press conference in Detroit called today by the National Organizing Conference to Stop Government Spying.
They were obtained by attorneys for the Alliance to End Repression, a Chicago organization and a coalition of 31 other civil rights, church and political organizations. The coalition obtained the files recently under a disclosure motion made in a suit it filed in 1974 against the Chicago police department's antisubversive unit.
Richard Gutman, an attorney for the coalition, said yesterday that his group obtained more than a hundred intelligence cards kept on individuals by LEIU. Most of the cards were kept on organized crime figures, he said, but about 20 were kept on persons Gutman described as "political dissidents."
"A number of these people have no criminal record or connection with organized crime," Gutman said. "They were only involved in lawful political activity."
"This is the first concrete evidence that LEIU engaged in gathering and disseminating information on lawful political activitise," Gutman said. "We think it has the effect of inhibiting people from freely expressing their First Amendment right."
Thomas Ruxlow, vice chairman of LEIU, denied yesterday that his goup maintained files on political activists. Ruxlow, who is head of the Iowa state division of investigation, said that if files were kept in the past on political activists they have been purged from the organization's records. He added, however, that the files may have been still in the Chicago police records because the Chicago police department may not have followed an order by the national group to purge its LEIU files.
According to LEIU documents made available to The Washington Post by the Chicago coalition, several intelligence files, included persons who apparently were not covered by the group's bylaws.
One 1971 file contributed by the Redlands, Calif., police department lists a law student with no arrest record. The only information on the student in the intelligence file is that he was a "recognized leader of peace movements" and that he organized and raised money for draft-evasions counseling and peace demonstrations.
Others files were kept on a University of Washington professor; a teacher of the Republican of New Africa, a southern black separate movement; a member of the Black Panther party; a member of the Communist Party and members of the American Indian Movement.