Every day, the presidential campaigns email to reporters press releases touting the endorsements they have most recently snagged. On Tuesday morning, the John McCain campaign, stinging from the news that its first-quarter fundraising efforts were anemic, zapped out word that GOP moneyman Fred Malek is joining the McCain team as a national finance co-chair. The press release hails Malek:
Fred Malek has been a pioneer in four professions including corporate management, government, politics, and finance. After distinguished service as an Airborne Ranger in the U.S. Army, Malek joined the Marriott Corporation and rose to become president of Marriott Hotels and Resorts. He later served as president and co-CEO of Northwest Airlines.
Malek has played a central role in government over the past 30 years. He has served as Deputy Under Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and Deputy Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB). He also served President Ronald Reagan in a number of advisory capacities and, in 1990, was Director of the Summit of Major Industrialized Nations–with the lifetime rank of Ambassador.
Malek’s political career spans over three decades. In 1972, after Watergate, he served as the deputy chairman of President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign. Malek was director of the 1988 Republican National Convention and campaign manager for President George H.W. Bush in 1992.
The McCain press shop left out an interesting piece of Malek’s history: when he counted Jews for President Richard Nixon. Two years ago–when Malek was leading an investment group seeking to buy the new Washington Nationals baseball team, my friend Tim Noah at Slate reviewed Malek’s dark past. Here’s what he wrote:
It’s one of the more gothic stories about Nixon related in Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s The Final Days. As they tell it, late in 1971–the same year, coincidentally, that the Washington Senators moved to Texas and changed their name to the Rangers–Nixon
summoned the White House personnel chief, Fred Malek, to his office to discuss a “Jewish cabal” in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The “cabal,” Nixon said, was tilting economic figures to make his Administration look bad. How many Jews were there in the bureau? he wanted to know. Malek reported back on the number, and told the President that the bureau’s methods of weighing statistics were normal procedure that had been in use for years.
In 1988, when George Bush pere installed Malek as deputy chairman for the Republican National Committee, Woodward dusted off his notes and, with the Washington Post‘s Walter Pincus, further revealed that two months after Malek filed a memo on the matter–he’d counted 13 Jews, though his methodology was shaky–a couple of them were demoted. (Malek denied any role and said Nixon’s notions of a “Jewish cabal” were “ridiculous” and “nonsense.”) The 1988 story raised a predictable ruckus, and Malek beat a hasty retreat from the RNC. As exiles go, Malek’s was pretty painless. He still got to run the 1988 Republican Convention (and in 1992 he would be Bush pere’s campaign manager). He joined George W. Bush’s syndicate to purchase the Rangers, he went on the board of the American-Israel Friendship Society, he took over Northwest Airlines, and he started an investment firm, Thayer Capital Partners.