The FBI’s Deteriorating Perception of Former NYC Mayor John Lindsay in 60s & Early 70s - The Jewish Voice
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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The FBI’s Deteriorating Perception of Former NYC Mayor John Lindsay in 60s & Early 70s

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The FBI’s Deteriorating Perception of Former NYC Mayor John Lindsay in 60s & Early 70s

By:  Ellen Cans

Some 96 pages of once-classified FBI files regarding the impression the Federal Bureau of Investigation had of former NYC Mayor John Lindsay have been released.  The files were obtained and reviewed by The NY Post under the Freedom of Information Act.

Lindsay, who served as the city’s Mayor from 1966 to 1973 and who passed away in 2000 at the age of 79, had previously served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1959 to 1965. He was a lawyer and he had also served as a second lieutenant in the US Navy during World War II.  He ran an unsuccessful bid for US President in 1972. At first Lindsay had been popular and well liked with FBI agents—so much so that he enjoyed direct access to then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Lindsay had joined the  US Department of Justice in 1955 as executive assistant to Attorney General Herbert Brownell.   As reported by the NY Post, between his appointment to the DOJ until 1972 when Hoover passed away, the agency’s perception of Lindsay changed drastically.

The formerly classified files show that in 1955, while working at the DOJ, Lindsay and his wife with some female friends scored a private tour of the FBI’s headquarters in Washington DC with a rare meet and greet with Hoover.  “I now have a party of four (count em*) beautiful girls accompanying me on the tour at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow – a blonde, two brunettes, and a chestnut,” wrote Lindsay in a typed memo to Hoover dated Feb. 1955.  “They are all members of the J. Edgar Hoover fan club so I hope you’ll be free for one minute to say hello (I’m willing to share!).”  “I will see them,” Hoover had written back, signing his name as “H.”

Lindsay was a charismatic figure, but by the time his tenure as NYC Mayor was up, he didn’t have much grace left in the eyes of the FBI.  “This will be welcome news to many!” cheered Hoover in a note scribbled at the bottom of a 1970 press clip which reported that Lindsay wouldn’t seek re-election as NYC mayor for 1973.  Lindsay, a longtime liberal Republican eventually switched parties becoming a Democrat to facilitate his failed Presidential bid, as well as a subsequent unsuccessful bid for NY Senator in 1980.

The files show that the politician was never accused by the Feds for any wrongdoing, but Hoover kept an entire file on him—in which he was criticized and called unfit for office for his outspoken and what was considered an unpatriotic position against the Vietnam war.  “Recently Mayor’s John Lindsay of New York (as reported by Paul Harvey on national radio) stated ‘the real heroes of [Vietnam War] are those who dodge the draft and protest’ etc.,” read a letter to Hoover dated May 1970, on the day following the notorious massacre of antiwar demonstrators at Kent State University.  “Sir, how in the name of freedom can a leader of this stature speak such despicably pro-Vietcong, pro-flag-burning, pot-smoking words and retain his position with scarcely anything said in refutation?”

The files contained another letter which read: “Are we to permit what I consider one of the most dangerous men in our country to take it over,” wrote one person referring to Lindsay’s presidential campaign, in an Oct. 1971 letter to then-US Sen. Bob Dole and cc’ed to Hoover.

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