Bernard A. Weisberger’s article (“In the News”) in the May/June issue about former Presidents carelessly omits a number of highly publicized facts about President Nixon and thus misleads your readers about his current activities.
Mr. Weisberger refers to the fact that former Presidents and First Ladies are entitled to lifetime Secret Service protection, but he neglects to note that President and Mrs. Nixon voluntarily gave up their protection in 1985 and 1984, respectively, decisions that already have saved taxpayers twelve million dollars. They now pay for their own security.
He writes that former Presidents receive “Treasury help in compiling the memoir for which [they] will receive a sturdy publisher’s advance.” As far as President Nixon is concerned, this statement is wrong. President Nixon has always maintained a separate personal budget to ensure that no government funds were ever used to provide editorial or research support for the preparation of the seven books he has written since leaving office.
Mr. Weisberger writes that since 1955 the government “has been staffing and maintaining the special libraries” for former Presidents but neglects to point out that the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace, now under construction at Yorba Linda, California, will be the first such facility to be both built and operated entirely without taxpayers’ funds.
It may also be of interest to your readers that President Nixon does not take speech honoraria and has not done so since becoming Vice-Président in 1953. His staff turns down approximately $675,000 a year in offers of fees for speeches. He has also declined offers to serve on corporate boards of directors. In sum, since leaving office President Nixon has conducted himself entirely in keeping with the 1958 congressional statement that Mr. Weisberger quotes: “We expect a former President to engage in no business or occupation which would demean the office he has held or capitalize upon it in any improper way.”