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Businessman Who Once ‘Counted Jews’ For Nixon Tapped By Trump For Smithsonian Board

A controversial businessman who once compiled a list of Jewish government employees to give to President Richard Nixon will be nominated by President Trump to chair the board of a Smithsonian think tank, the White House announced Wednesday.

Trump intended to nominate Fred Malek to chair the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, one of the world’s most prestigious think tanks. Malek, a longtime Republican donor, once served as an assistant to Nixon, who asked aides to compile a list of Jews working at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which he thought was conspiring against him.

Nixon was taped on July 24, 1971 telling aides that there was “a Jewish cabal” in BLS and asked how many Jews worked in the department. Nixon aide John Ehrlichman said that Malek was working on finding those figures.

Three days later, Malek sent a memo to Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman saying that 25 of 35 tracked BLS employees were Democrats, adding, “in addition, 13 out of the 35 fit the other demographic criterion that was discussed.”

That September, Malek noted in another memo to Haldeman that many BLS employees had been reassigned or demoted — including numerous Jews, such as Harold Goldstein and Leon Greenberg.

Malek eventually apologized for his actions, saying in 1989, “I regret my compliance. It was a mistake.” In 2014, he received an award from the Anti-Defamation League.

Contact Aiden Pink at pink@forward.com.

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