According to a recent article by Seth Rosenfeld in the New York Times, the patron saint of small-government Republicans, Ronald Reagan, assisted the FBI in spying on suspected Communists in Hollywood, and even his own daughter, Maureen, who, at the age of 19, had moved to Washington D.C. and was reportedly living with an older, married policeman.
All this has come to light thanks to FBI records that have been recently released under the Freedom of Information Act.
The documents show that Reagan was more involved than was previously known as a government informer during his Hollywood years, and that in return he secretly received personal and political help from J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime F.B.I. director, at taxpayer expense.Rosenfeld goes on to describe how, one night in 1946, FBI agents went to Reagan's house with information that many communists had secretly infiltrated key positions in Hollywood. Impressed by that information, Reagan was only too willing to help the agency in its efforts to root them out.
The newly released files ... show that he began to report secretly to the F.B.I. about people whom he suspected of Communist activity, some on the scantiest of evidence. And they reveal that during his tenure as president of the Screen Actors Guild in the ’40s and ’50s, F.B.I. agents had access to guild records on dozens of actors. As one F.B.I. official wrote in a memo, Reagan “in every instance has been cooperative.”In 1960, Reagan would use his personal relationship with J. Edgar Hoover to find out information about his then-estranged daughter Maureen.
An assistant F.B.I. director, Cartha DeLoach, recommended that the F.B.I. grant the Reagans’ request, even while noting that “there does not appear to be any F.B.I. jurisdiction here.” Hoover quickly approved the inquiry. Posing as an insurance salesman, one agent made a pretext phone call to neighbors; another contacted a police source; a third interviewed the maid at Maureen Reagan’s rooming house.There are plenty of other such instances reported on in the article, but I will leave you with this last chilling piece of information:
The investigation confirmed that Ms. Reagan was living with the married patrolman, and Mr. DeLoach ordered an agent to tell the Reagans via Mr. Murphy “on a highly confidential basis.”
Days after he took office in January 1967, Governor Reagan called the F.B.I. and requested a briefing on the demonstrations at Berkeley. Hoover again obliged, confidentially providing information from the bureau’s domestic surveillance files.