WASHINGTON -- The National Archives released a 50,000-page grab bag of long-classified documents from President Richard M. Nixon's White House yesterday -- no smoking guns, but fascinating fragments, from a slew of favor-seeking memos by Sen. Bob Dole, Republican of Kansas, to an early draft of a plan for spying on left-wingers.
Letters from Mr. Dole, some quite stern, poured into the Nixon White House, sometimes daily. They sought scores of patronage jobs for friends and constituents, political favors ranging from executive clemency to 100th-birthday telephone calls, and support for Mr. Dole's favorite causes, such as the corn-based gasoline additives made by a longtime sponsor, the agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland.
Mr. Dole did not always succeed in finding administration jobs for his friends and allies. "Kansans may yet land one appointment," he wrote tartly to a presidential assistant, Bryce Harlow, in April 1969. "We do have an inside track on a janitor's job at the USDA -- we lost out on the doorman."
In addition to seeking help, Mr. Dole gave support. "I want you to know that the good people of Kansas are most impressed with the Sunday morning worship services and with the practice thus far of serving no 'hard liquor' at White House functions," the senator wrote Mr. Nixon in February 1969, two weeks into the president's first term.
And he was hardly the only favor-seeker at the Nixon White House. Ross Perot sought help with "Wall Street troubles," says a 1973 memo from Alexander M. Haig Jr., the general-turned-political-foot soldier. And 18-year-old John R. Kasich, now chairman of the House Budget Committee, scrawled a five-page letter seeking an internship. He was rejected.
Two members of the Republican presidential field, Sen. Richard G. Lugar, then mayor of Indianapolis and a favorite of Mr. Nixon's, and Lamar Alexander, then a rising star in Tennessee, also show up in the newly declassified files, but only in passing.
For Watergate aficionados, the files include a June 4, 1970, memo to Mr. Nixon from an aide, Tom Charles Huston. It is the earliest record of a plan to put U.S. intelligence agencies to work spying on American groups "determined to destroy our society" -- those opposed to Mr. Nixon and the war in Vietnam.
The existence of the "Huston plan," approved by Mr. Nixon but opposed and eventually blocked by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, became public during and after the Watergate scandal, which drove the president from office in August 1974.