WASHINGTON (JTA) — Democrats pressed Republicans to distance themselves from a major donor involved in Richard Nixon’s campaign against Jewish government employees.
Fred Malek’s role in demoting Jews in the Bureau of Labor Statistics while working as personnel director in the Nixon administration was first revealed in 1988, when it led to his resignation as deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee. He subsequently reached out to Jewish groups to make amends.
Additional memos recently released by the Nixon Library and published by the National Archives reveal additional information about Nixon’s mission to demote 13 Jewish staffers, whom he was convinced were tweaking employment statistics to make him look bad.
The newly released memos show that the campaign in 1971 lasted from February to December — with Malek’s involvement spanning the period — and clearly targeted Jews, euphemistically called "ethnics."
Malek has remained involved in Republican politics and chairs the American Action Network, a group that Democrats says is aimed at targeting Democrats in November’s midterm elections.
Malek’s spokesman, Mark Corallo, told the Washington Post that Malek "has made mistakes in his life for which he has apologized, atoned and learned from."
Democrats seemed determined not to let the matter go.
"With Malek leading an effort this year to target House Democrats, Republican leaders must quickly decide whether to distance themselves from Malek and his troubling past or sit by and stay silent," said a statement Thursday from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) chided Republicans who said staked their claim to the Jewish vote because of the party’s support for Israel.
"How can you accept money from someone who put Jews on Nixon’s enemy list?" he told JTA.
Malek, in the course of making amends, has befriended Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who continue to defend him as having paid for his role in the Nixon purge.
Matthew Brooks, the director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said Democrats were rehashing old news.
"The incident that everybody is upset about — and rightly — is a mistake he admits, and he has apologized," Brooks told JTA. "The guy’s paid an unbelievable personal price for it. This is a sad character assassination."