A review of Richard M. Nixon Administration documents has turned up a memo indicating that Texas billionaire Ross Perot, now preparing for an independent run for the presidency, offered to buy a television network in 1969 to aid Nixon's public relations.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Perot insisted that his contacts with the Nixon White House were limited 99% of the time to his widely publicized efforts to free American prisoners of war in Vietnam.
But the documents by White House staffers say that in private meetings with Nixon, Perot offered $50 million for a public relations effort in 1969 that included plans to buy a major newspaper and the ABC television network. He pledged another $10 million in 1970 to create a pro-Nixon think tank, the documents say.
Nixon accepted both offers, but Perot never delivered, according to the documents.
Perot steadfastly denies making the monetary offers, insisting that Nixon aides would sometimes solicit him with "fantasy land numbers . . . and beautiful and strange ideas. And I always made it very clear to them I wasn't interested."
When asked why the offers showed up in the documents, he said: "I can't control what people scribble on pads."
Separately, Perot also denied a report Thursday by a Texas newspaper publisher who said that Perot, upset over coverage of his son's business dealings, suggested in 1989 that he had compromising photos of one of the paper's employees.
Richard Connor of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram said Perot telephoned to complain about the newspaper's coverage of an airport contract competition involving his son and hinted that he had photographs proving sexual impropriety involving a reporter and a city official.
"The incident was clearly a pressure tactic and could have been taken as an implied threat, but Perot made no direct correlation between the alleged photographs and the airport controversy," Connor wrote in a column published Thursday.