How and why US Attorney General John Mitchell and the Republican party, through the “Committee to Re-Elect the President,” contributed $1,200 to the down payment for the Los Angeles headquarters of the National Socialist White People’s Party (NSWPP) in 1971, and subsequent events.
by Martin Kerr
Introductory Note: I have been writing a series about my personal experiences in the Movement. However, in order to set the stage for some anecdotes to come, I need to discuss an important event in which I did not participate: the involvement of the NSWPP in the Watergate scandal that brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon. Some readers may feel that the narrative that I present here is a little far-fetched and that perhaps I have allowed my imagination to run away with me. So, before recounting events as I remember them, allow me to include a link from the June 8, 1973, New York Times, which confirms and documents this episode: Nazi Party Linked to G.O.P. Anti‐Wallace Move – The New York Times. (The complete text of the Times piece may be found at the end of this article.)
DURING THE RUN-UP to the 1972 presidential election, it was widely assumed that the November ballot in California would include, in addition to the Republican and Democrat candidates, George Wallace, running as a third-party candidate of the American Party (elsewhere in the country known as the “American Independent Party”). The Republicans were worried that the Wallace campaign would take enough votes from their candidate, incumbent Richard Nixon, that the state would be carried by the Democrats. That did not happen, because on May 15, 1972, Wallace was shot and severely wounded in an unsuccessful assassination attempt, and he withdrew from the race.
But in 1971, that was all in the future, and the “Wallace threat” seemed very real to the Republicans.
The Republican effort to re-elect Nixon was formally called the “Committee to Re-Elect the President,” but was widely known as CREEP. US Attorney General John Mitchell was its chairman.
The New York Times reported:
[Mitchell] said he had heard there was a way to remove the [American Independent party] from the ballot. He said they had run a poll between Muskie, Nixon and Wallace that showed that without Wallace four-fifths of the Wallace vote would go to Nixon. He emphasized they thought they were in trouble, and that Nixon especially wanted to win California…. California law says that if a party’s registration falls below 1/15th of 1 per cent of the total number of voters, it is removed from the ballot.
The goal, then, was to get half of the American Party’s 32,000 registered voters in California to change their registration to another party — any party. Through various intermediaries, $10,000 towards this effort was allocated and given to Lyn Nofziger, the head of CREEP in California. Nofziger delegated the project to subordinates, and eventually a disgruntled former Wallace operative named Glenn Parker was enlisted in the effort. Parker’s wife, Bonnie, was a former associate of George Lincoln Rockwell and the American Nazi Party, and she was a personal friend of Joseph Tommasi, Los Angeles leader of the National Socialist White People’s Party. At the time, Tommasi was only 20 years old — barely out of his teen years.
On Parker’s recommendation, the Republicans made a verbal contract with Tommasi to subvert the Wallace campaign by using NSWPP activists to re-register American Party members into another party. From Tommasi’s perspective, this campaign was a win-win-win effort:
- The NSWPP would use the $6,000 (about $40,000 in today’s money) they were promised to help get their new headquarters at 4375 N. Peck Rd., El Monte, up and running;
- The NSWPP would obtain a list of Wallace voters in California that it could exploit for its own purposes; and
- The campaign would weaken the Wallace movement in California, which the NSWPP viewed as competition for the support of racially conscious Whites.
So, the NS activists went to work, contacting American Party members one by one. They later told me that it was tough going, because Wallace’s supporters were extremely loyal to him. The Wallace movement got wind of what was happening, and they launched their own campaign to recruit new registered voters for their party.
In fact, the American Party was able to sign up new members faster than the NSWPP could get existing voters to de-register from the party. After a month or so, the Republicans cancelled the effort. By that time, Tommasi had already been paid two installments, totaling $1,200 (worth about $8,100 today). He insisted that CREEP pay the entire $6,000 amount that he had been promised. But the Repubs reneged on the agreement.
Tommasi threatened to go to the press: With great foresight he had made photocopies of the checks that he had received from CREEP. The Republicans laughed in his face: “Go ahead,” they told him, “we’ll deny it, and no one will believe that the Republican party ever paid the Nazis one penny for anything.”
Undaunted, Tommasi called a press conference and revealed that the Republicans had paid for the down payment on the El Monte headquarters building. Unsurprisingly, none of the media reported the story, other than the Communist party newspaper and a few other far-left outlets. The notion that the Republicans would enter into some sort of tactical alliance with the “American Nazis” just seemed too incredible.
Tommasi thought that that was the end of the matter — and it was, until June 1973, when White House counsel John Dean told the whole remarkable story to a Senate committee investigating the Watergate scandal. Dean had been arrested for his part in Nixon’s misdoings. At first he kept quiet, but then he was told that if he didn’t talk, he would be sent to prison, where he would be gang-raped by Blacks. So Dean agreed to talk — and he talked and talked and talked. And one afternoon, during a nationally televised hearing, he told the story of how John Mitchell and CREEP had paid for the notorious Nazi headquarters in El Monte.
The result was a publicity bonanza for the NSWPP. In Arlington, Party Commander Matt Koehl was unhappy with the media coverage: he did not want the party to be linked to any part of the Watergate scandal. He felt that that would tarnish the party’s image as an alternative to the corrupt Old Order. For his part, Tommasi rode the notoriety as far as he could. He tried to spin it that this episode somehow put the NSWPP on the same level as the Republicans. That was a bit of a stretch — but no one could deny that the NSWPP had become a power factor in California politics, even if it was only minor player. Although CREEP refused to pay him the full amount of their contract, the NSWPP received hundreds of thousands of dollars in free publicity, both national and international. One result was that the NSWPP was increasingly portrayed as a legitimate political party, and not just an extremist group on the fringes of society. From that perspective, it was quite a coup for the youthful Tommasi and the NSWPP.
That the Nixon campaign had dealings with the “American Nazis,” and had paid them an amount which was then used help purchase their headquarters, did not serve to endear Nixon to the Jewish community (which basically hated him, anyway).
A year later, Nixon was gone as president — and we were still flying the Swastika flag in front of our headquarters in El Monte.
* * *
Nazi Party Linked to G.O.P. Anti‐Wallace Move
by Steven V. Roberts
Special to The New York Times
June 8, 1973
LOS ANGELES, June 7 — Secret funds from President Nixon’s re‐election campaign financed an unsuccessful effort to remove Gov. George C. Wallace’s American Independent party from the California ballot last year, according to a former Nixon campaign official.
Some of the money apparently wound up in the hands of the American Nazi party, which says it was recruited to help in the drive.
The California effort against the Wallace party seems to have been part of a broader campaign by Nixon forces to undercut the Alabama Governor.
Last week, John W. Dean 3d, formerly President Nixon’s counsel, reportedly told Federal investigators that $200,000 to $400,000 in Nixon campaign funds was used to try to defeat Governor Wallace in the Democratic governorship primary in 1970.
Lyn Nofziger, who ran President Nixon’s re‐election campaign in California, said today that he had been working at the Committee for the Re‐election of the President in Washington in the fall of 1971 when he was approached by Jeb Stuart Magruder, the committee’s deputy director.
According to Mr. Nofziger, Mr. Magruder said that a man named Robert J. Walters, a former assistant to Governor Wallace, had proposed a plan to reduce the number of voters registered in the American Independent party to the point where the party would be removed from the ballot. Mr. Walters reportedly told Mr. Magruder he could do the job for $10,000.
“Magruder asked me if I knew someone who could monitor what Walters was doing and make the payments as needed,” recalled Mr. Nofziger, who now works for Lieut. Gov. Ed Reinecke of California. “I found the man to do it. When I informed Mr. Magruder I had the man, he said to go over and see Hugh Sloan [treasurer of the Nixon campaign] and get the money.”
The Senate committee investigating the Watergate scandal has heard Mr. Sloan testify that he gave the $10,000 to Mr. Nofziger and later heard rumors that “this was used for some purpose with regard to the Wallace primary.”
Mr. Nofziger said he had picked up an envelope from Mr. Sloan, which he assumes contained the money in cash, and had it delivered to its contact in California. Mr. Nofziger declined to identify that contact, but other sources said it had been Jack Lindsay, a food company executive who formerly worked for Gov. Ronald Reagan. Mr. Lindsay could not be reached for comment.
Report on Mitchell
“My friend monitored the program and sent in two or three reports, but I didn’t even look at them. I sent them over to Magruder,” Mr. Nofziger said.
According to several knowledgeable sources, the project was originally planned at a meeting in Los Angeles in October, 1971, attended by Mr. Magruder, former Attorney General John N. Mitchell, Mr. Walters, and Glenn Parker, an aide to Mr. Walters. An article in The Washington Post this morning quoted Mr. Parker as saying:
“Mitchell started the conversation. He said he had heard there was a way to remove the [American Independent party] from the ballot. He said they had run a poll between Muskie, Nixon and Wallace that showed that without Wallace four‐fifths of the Wallace vote would go to Nixon. He emphasized they thought they were in trouble, and that Nixon especially wanted to win California.”
Mr. Walters, who now runs an advertising business in Maywood, Calif., got in touch with both Mr. Nofziger and Mr. Parker. He said that his campaign against the American In dependent party had been aimed at protecting local conservative candidates, not Mr. Nixon, since Governor Wallace never intended to run as a third‐party candidate anyway in 1972.
Mr. Walters, who spoke in an interview, also denied receiving any financial help from the Nixon campaign, and said he had raised all the money he spent — about $8,400 — from private sources. Mr. Walters says that he knows Mr. Magruder, who ran Mr. Nixon’s Los Angeles campaign in 1968, but he denied that the meeting reportedly described by Mr. Parker ever took place.
California law says that if a party’s registration falls below 1–15th of 1 per cent of the total number of voters, it is removed from the ballot. Mr. Walters said he had hoped to convince about half of the American Independent party’s 32,000 members to change registration, but fell far short of his goal.
Joseph Tommasi, a spokesman for the Nazi party head quartered in suburban El Monte, has maintained since last fall that the party received $1,200 from Mr. Walters and Mr. Parker for helping in the drive. Its role was to canvass American Independent party members and urge them to re-register, he said.
Investigation by State
Mr. Walters said that he did not remember recruiting the Nazis, but he conceded that Mr. Parker might have.
An aide to Secretary of State Edmund G. Brown Jr. said today that an investigation was under way to determine if any state election laws had been violated, but Mr. Nofziger insisted that the drive had been “perfectly legitimate.”
“As far as I’m concerned it was legal, moral and good politics, and I’d do it again, but it was not very practical,” Mr. Nofziger said.
Mr. Walters, 31 years old, pleaded “no contest” last fall to fraud charges in connection with a campaign to place an initiative regarding farm workers on the state ballot and was fined $500.