THE PETERSEN MEMO
"Though a good deal is too strange to be believed, nothing is too strange to have happened"
In the spring of 1979, Jim filed a Freedom of Information Act request for anything under his name at any government agency. A few months later, a file three inches thick came in the mail that included everything we had given to the FBI. There were also FBI memos about the stacks of evidence we had sent in.
There was a notation in the folder that 37 pages of the file were sequestered "in another agency" We called an agent at the Miami field office of the FBI and asked: "What does that mean?"
"The CIA," he said.
We wondered why What does the CIA have to do with vote rigging? What has this to do with national security? And what the hell is on those 37 pages?
We also found among the papers a memo of instructions from Henry E. Petersen, assistant U.S. Attorney General of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department.
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
TO: Acting Director, DATE:: 5/16/72
Federal Bureau of Investigation
FROM: Henry E. Petersen
Assistant Attorney General
SUBJECT: UNKNOWN SUBJECTS:
KENNETH COLLIER VICTIM
This is to recommend that the Crime Records Division advise U.S. Representative Claude Pepper (Democrat-Florida) of institution of this investigation at the request of the Criminal Division Department, regarding a possible Election Laws violation. Investigation at this time is being limited to interviews of: (The names were blacked out)
Background: James Collier and his brother Kenneth have furnished several statements concerning what they believe to be a violation of the Election Laws Statute. The violation allegedly occurred during the September 1970 Florida primary elections when Kenneth Collier was a candidate for U.S. Congressman running against the incumbent Claude Pepper on the Democratic ticket. The Colliers contend the elections were "rigged" because immediately after the polls closed, Miami television stations predicted the final vote percentages of each candidate and the projected vote totals. The television stations' predictions were allegedly 100% accurate. Professor Ross Beiler of the University of Miami and Mr. Elton Davis of the Cavanaugh Computer Corporation apparently programmed the computers for the Miami television stations which predicted the election outcome. The Colliers allege Beiler and Davis participated in a scheme to rig the above mentioned primary. Statements obtained from the Colliers regarding their allegations have been forwarded to the Criminal Division which has requested Beiler and Davis to be interviewed to ascertain their possible involvement in alleged scheme to rig this election. If either Professor Beiler or Mr. Davis acknowledges that he did particpate [sic] in rigging this election, the Bureau should attempt to ascertain the manner in which this rigging was effected, for what purpose it was effected, and who directed that the election be rigged.
ACTION: Departmental Attorney Craig C. Donsanto was contacted and advised as a matter of courtesy It is recommended the Crime Records Division advise Congressman Pepper that at the specific request of Assistant Attorney General Henry E. Petersen, Criminal Division of the Department of Justice an investigation has been instituted. (End of memo)
Henry Petersen was to become semi famous later on as the federal investigator in the case against the Watergate burglars. This was the first indication that Petersen was fully involved in the vote fraud investigation prior to his Watergate assignment.
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