Goldwater Campaign Aide: LBJ Ordered FBI to Spy on Our Campaign

The bureau wiretapped Barry Goldwater's plane and headquarters.

President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. (© CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Corbis via Getty Images

During the 1964 presidential campaign, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered the FBI to spy on Barry Goldwater’s campaign, according to Lee Edwards, a Heritage Foundation fellow and director of information for the Goldwater campaign.

Every poll pointed toward Johnson winning the election against the conservative senator of Arizona, but LBJ wanted to win by a landslide so he could implement his Great Society vision without restraint. He also wanted to go down in history as one of America’s greatest presidents, Edwards writes in The Wall Street Journal. So he created an “Anti-Campaign” to smear Goldwater’s candidacy, Edwards claims.

According to Edwards, the operation was run out of the second floor of the West Wing by veteran Washington-based Democrats like Leonard Marks, who later became the director of the U.S. Information Agency, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then an assistant secretary at the Department of Labor and later a U.S. senator for New York. Marks and  Moynihan would schedule Democratic speakers before and after Goldwater’s appearance in a city. They knew his travel plans and remarks in advance thanks to a spy the CIA planted at Goldwater headquarters, Edwards claims.

The “Anti-Campaign” went as far as to enlist the FBI, even though the bureau is supposed to limit its investigations to people and institutions considered dangerous to national security, Edwards writes. The FBI arranged for widespread wiretapping of the Goldwater campaign, according to Edwards, and  Johnson also illegally ordered the FBI to conduct security checks of Goldwater’s Senate staff.

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