Henry E. Petersen
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|Henry E. Petersen|
|United States Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division|
|Preceded by||Will Wilson|
|Succeeded by||Dick Thornburgh|
|Born||Henry E. Petersen
|Died||1991 (aged 69–70)
|Spouse(s)||Jean L. King|
|Alma mater||Georgetown University
Henry E. Petersen (1921-1991) was an American attorney and government official. He served as United States Assistant Attorney General during the Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford administrations. Petersen conducted many interviews during the Watergate scandal. Petersen was perhaps the only investigator to research allegations of US voting fraud in the 1970s.
Voter fraud investigation
In the September 1970 Florida primary elections Kenneth Collier, later a co-author of the book Votescam," was a candidate for U.S. Congress, running against incumbent Claude Pepper on the Democratic ticket.
The elections were suspected to have been "rigged" after Miami television stations were able to predict the final vote percentage of each candidate, as well as the projected vote totals, with purportedly complete accuracy immediately after the polls closed. The computers used for this purpose were apparently programmed by Ross Beiler of the University of Miami and Elton Davis of the Cavanaugh Computer Corporation. The two men are named in Petersen's memo to the Acting Director of the FBI at the time, L. Patrick Gray, concerning the investigation:
[...] 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 Professor Beiler or Mr. Davis acknowledges that he did participate in rigging this election, the Bureau should attempt to ascertain the manner in which this rigging was affected, for what purpose it was effected, and who directed the elections to be rigged.
ACTION: Departmental Attorney Craig C. Donsanto was contacted and advised as a matter of courtesy. Crime Records Division were recommended to 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)
Petersen was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1921 and grew up in Washington DC area. Petersen served in the United States Marine Corps in the South Pacific during World War II. After returning, Petersen studied at Georgetown University and received his law degree from the Catholic University of America.
- "Gerald R. Ford: Letter Accepting the Resignation of Henry E. Petersen as Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division.". www.presidency.ucsb.edu. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
- "Reviews Of Barry Sussman's "The Great Cover-Up"". watergate.info. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
- Higgins, George V. (November 1, 1974). "The Friends of Richard Nixon". The Atlantic.
- "Henry E. Petersen Is Dead at 70; Investigated Watergate Break-In". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
- "The Petersen Memo".
- "Gerald R. Ford: Letter Accepting the Resignation of Henry E. Petersen as Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division.".
- "Henry E. Petersen, 70, a career Justice Department...". tribunedigital-baltimoresun.