President Richard Nixon not only targeted wealthy Jewish Democrats for IRS audits, his White House also secretly investigated tax records of a key Jewish Republican slated to run the Nixon re-election campaign's outreach to Jews.
The Nixon White House's target in 1971 was Lawrence Y. Goldberg, a leading Rhode Island Republican and Jewish activist who now lives in Tiburon.
Goldberg, 65, says that even now he feels "anger" over Nixon's White House illegally probing his tax returns and questioning his loyalty.
"No one is more outraged than I am. Why should they do it to me? I was there to help them," Goldberg, a Belvedere-based real estate investor, told the Jewish Bulletin.
Prompted by new revelations that Nixon used the IRS to target Jewish opponents, Goldberg spoke out about his former boss for the first time this week.
"I have always felt badly about the people in the [re-election] campaign. We were lied to and we were used," Goldberg said. "I felt victimized. I felt anger and disappointment, which continue to this day."
Whether Nixon was personally involved with the IRS probe is unknown.
Goldberg first learned he was a White House target in 1974, during House Judiciary Committee hearings on whether to impeach Nixon. He was, therefore, not surprised to learn of this week's revelations that Nixon ordered a top aide to have the IRS "go after" Jews at a time when the Nixon White House used the IRS for political ends.
Recently released White House tapes show that in September 1971 meetings with domestic adviser John Ehrlichman and Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, Nixon urged IRS investigations of wealthy Jews who contributed to 1968 Democratic presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey and former Maine Sen. Edmund Muskie, who was the Democratic presidential front-runner, the San Francisco Examiner reported Sunday.
But Jewish Democrats were not Nixon's only targets. That same year, the White House went after at least one Jewish Republican as well — Goldberg, who was then a successful Rhode Island manufacturer, Jewish community leader, GOP activist and staunch Nixon supporter.
At the time, Goldberg was being recommended by millionaire Republican contributor and veteran GOP leader Max Fisher to co-chair the Jewish Voter Group, an arm of the Committee to Re-elect the President. As a "formality," Goldberg met with Attorney General John Mitchell, who headed CREEP.
But Goldberg also recalled that he was never asked for credentials or references.
What he didn't know in 1971 was that the White House didn't need the information because it was secretly investigating him.
In a White House memo dated Sept. 22, 1971, John "Jack" Caulfield, head of security for the president's office, drafted a background list that detailed Goldberg's considerable Republican track record and called him "wealthy."
Caulfield later told the House committee that White House counsel John Dean "wanted background information on Mr. Goldberg."
The memo went on to say that Goldberg was active in the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (he chaired the ADL's New England regional board and was on its national committee), and that in January of that year he and two other ADL members appeared at a Soviet dance group performance in Boston to "express dissatisfaction with Soviet repression of Jewish civil rights."
Goldberg and other ADL members leafleted Soviet cultural events in an effort to enact U.S. trade legislation pressuring the Soviet Union into allowing Jewish emigration.
In the same memo — which surfaced in the 1974 House impeachment probe — Caulfield wrote that in a summer 1969 meeting of Rhode Island Republican officials, Goldberg "made strong comments vis-a-vis U.S. policy toward Israel in the Mid-East."
Goldberg, an ardent Zionist who had also chaired a Jewish Community Relations Council in Rhode Island, had delivered a speech opposing a Mideast peace plan by then-Secretary of State William Rogers, which Goldberg believed was "an effort to impose" a settlement on Israel.
Caulfield's memo, gleaned from comments by Goldberg's friend, Rhode Island U.S. Marshal Donald Wyatt (to whom Caulfield was sent by another Goldberg friend, then-Nixon special assistant and now TV pundit John McLaughlin), concluded with a warning:
"Inasmuch as Goldberg is scheduled to function…in the Jewish area, consideration should be given to a potential question of loyalty with respect to the aims and purposes" of CREEP's Jewish Voter Group.
Goldberg shook his head at the memory. "They questioned my loyalty," he said. But "I was very loyal to the Nixon campaign."
In fact, the Jewish Voter Group, which worked to convince centrist Jewish Democrats to vote for Nixon, helped win 36 percent of the Jewish vote for Nixon's re-election in 1972.
Despite the fact that leading Jews such as Fisher and Goldberg, as well as figures such as Rabbi Baruch Korff, campaigned hard for Nixon, "it hadn't been proven to him" that Jews were not all against him, Goldberg said.
On Oct. 6, 1971, Caulfield delivered a memo to Dean, along with a list of Goldberg's charitable contributions, totaling some $7,000, which the White House had covertly obtained from IRS Assistant Commissioner Vernon Acree.
"As you can see," Caulfield wrote to Dean, "it postures an extremely heavy involvement in Jewish organizational activity." Caulfield added: "I don't wish to raise this issue again. However, in my judgment, the attorney general should be discreetly made aware in this regard."
Caulfield initially told the House committee that the IRS check was only to see if Goldberg was "financially sound." But under further questioning, he acknowledged the IRS tax records were a "piece of intelligence information that [CREEP] should be made aware of."
After Nixon was re-elected, Goldberg — a self-described "liberal Republican" and product of a "left-wing" Rhode Island family — joined the White House as senior adviser to White House counsel James Lynn.
Less than two years later, the White House's secret targeting of Goldberg became part of an impeachment article the House committee was preparing against Nixon as an example of White House abuse of power. Nixon resigned in August 1974.
Goldberg went on to work for President Gerald Ford, became a vice president of Brandeis University, then worked for Ronald Reagan. He later led the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors in Washington before becoming a consultant.
Today, Goldberg, still a loyal Republican, remains convinced that the Nixon White House's violation of his civil rights and similar misdeeds were motivated more by paranoia and knee-jerk reactions than outright anti-Semitism.
"There were a lot of naive, stupid judgments — it comes out more than anti-Semitism," he said. "It was more stupid than nasty."
While at the White House, Goldberg met with Nixon several times in group sessions but said he never detected the kind of raw anger toward Jews that Nixon poured out in the just-released tapes. Nixon, said Goldberg, simply was against anyone who was against him.
"As revealed by the tapes, he was an equal opportunity hater," Goldberg said. "He hated anyone that disagreed with him."
Nixon's "animus" toward Jews grew out of the fact that a majority of Jews were Democrats and Nixon opponents, Goldberg said.
"His vision was that there was a cabal of all these people," Goldberg said. Nixon in fact used the term "cabal" to describe Jewish opponents, according to Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward's book "The Final Days."
But Goldberg also felt that Haldeman was a "despicable anti-Semite" who "egged Nixon on." The latest tapes show Haldeman suggesting that the White House find an anti-Semitic IRS agent to go after Jews, and Nixon replying, "Go after 'em like a son of a bitch!"
Despite feeling "betrayed" by Nixon, Goldberg remains "proud" of his work for CREEP's Jewish Voter Group, which won one of three Jewish votes for Nixon.
Yet Goldberg also helped elect Bill Clinton in 1992, because he felt a second term for George Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker, would have meant trouble for Israel.
In the wake of the latest revelations about Nixon, Goldberg said he felt compelled to tell his story publicly, in part to paint a more "authentic" picture of Nixon, the Republicans and the Jews.
When it comes to Nixon, he said, "I see myself as a fellow victim."