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Oct. 27-31, 1960: Columnist Drew Pearson reports on a $205,000 loan from Hughes Tool Co. to struggling restaurant operator Donald Nixon, the vice president’s brother.
Pearson is careful to say that it’s unclear whether Hughes received favorable treatment from the government as a direct result of the 1956 loan, but he reports that the company benefited in the next few years and he emphasizes the extreme secrecy surrounding the money.
Pearson noted the delicacy of publishing the story so close to an election and added that other reporters were also pursuing the matter. But as far as The Times editorial page was concerned, the column was a campaign smear and Pearson was no better than Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
Some argue that the story of the loan sank Nixon’s presidential campaign, but remember that by this time Nixon had also been badly bruised in the TV debates with the charismatic Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.). Still, the loan was certainly a heavy burden on the Nixon campaign and in fact it surfaced in Nixon’s unsuccessful 1962 race against Gov. Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Sr.
Postscript: During a 1973 news conference, President Nixon admitted wiretapping Donald Nixon in an attempt to keep tabs on whether his younger brother was involved in any questionable financial deals.
On the jump, the original Drew Pearson column, which appeared in the Mirror, and which is available nowhere else on the Internet – at least according to a Google search.