John H. Meier
Born (1933-09-28) September 28, 1933 (age 87)
New York
Nationality United States
Other names Johnny Meier
Known for Adviser to Howard Hughes, Watergate

John H. Meier (born September 28, 1933) is an American financier and business consultant now living in Vancouver, Canada. He is noted for working as a business adviser for Howard Hughes and for his behind-the-scenes involvement in events that precipitated President Richard M. Nixon's resignation. A book about his experiences, Age of Secrets: The Conspiracy that Toppled Richard Nixon and the Hidden Death of Howard Hughes, was written with his cooperation.[1]

Background[edit | edit source]

John Meier was born in 1933 and raised on Long Island, New York. He worked briefly for the New York Life Insurance Company before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1952 and sent to the war in Korea. Upon his honorable discharge in 1954, Meier returned to working for New York Life.[2]

In 1959, Meier was hired in the computer division at Hughes Aircraft and two years later transferred to Hughes Dynamics, a Los Angeles-based information management subsidiary of the Hughes Tool Company."[3]

Howard Hughes adviser[edit | edit source]


Meier with Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, King of Tonga, during Meier's time as an advisor for Hughes.

Meier was associated with Howard Hughes for 15 years and claimed to be his "right-hand man."[3] He alleges to be one of the few in Hughes's inner circle not only to be allowed to see him, but also to have met with him regularly and shake hands with the pathologically reclusive Hughes every day.[4][5][6] According to Robert Maheu, another Hughes adviser, all the reports Meier submitted to his employer were passed along by intermediaries.[3]

Meier positioned himself as the someone closely involved in Hughes's business operations and leveraged his connections to the industrialist.[7] One newspaper called Meier one of two "all-powerful aides who ran Howard's Nevada Empire."[8] During his tenure with the Hughes organization, Meier was involved in a controversial mine acquisition project. He had been representing people who were selling claims to Hughes and in just two years, Meier oversaw the transfer of $20 million to purchase over 2,000 mining claims in California and Nevada – some of which were not even owned by the original sellers.[9] Despite initial hopes that the mines would produce silver and gold,[8] according to several geological surveys, many of them were declared "worthless."[10] Meier alleged that Hughes was behind some of the controversy in a complex scheme he hatched in order to convince Moe Dalitz to sell the Stardust Casino.[11] Afterwards it was revealed that over $5 million worth of mine claims that should have gone to Hughes had been passed through tax shelters in Switzerland.[12]

In November 1969, Meier resigned from the Hughes organization apparently in order to focus on ecological issues, specifically how to apply technology and scientific research to environmental studies.[13] He later established the Nevada Environmental Foundation and as a sign that his relationship with Howard Hughes continued, Meier stated that Hughes was the one financing the Foundation.[citation needed]

A year after Hughes death, Meier claims to have obtained secret Howard Hughes documents from Mexico, which even the CIA had apparently been unable to secure, by working with Canadian parliamentarian John Reynolds. Reynolds obtained the documents from the Mexican Government because of his investigation into CIA activities in Canada.[14]

Legal troubles[edit | edit source]

The mine claims controversy was a source of legal trouble for Meier. In the 1970s, he was indicted and arrested for tax evasion. The Hughes Tool Company was suing him for $8 million and in March 1978 was awarded a judgment of $7.9 million.[12] That summer Meier left for Australia where he was briefly detained, but because he carried with him a diplomatic passport issued by the Kingdom of Tonga – Meier was heavily involved in the financing of infrastructure projects there – the Australian authorities released him. Avoiding return to the United States, he then went to live permanently in Vancouver (Meier had become a Canadian citizen in 1977[15]).[12][16]

Meier was eventually arrested in Canada and despite his appeals, was extradited to the United States in 1979 and charged with fraud and obstruction of justice. At this time Meier claimed to have in his possession the secret Hughes papers that would exonerate him. However, the court deemed that the papers were a forgery.[17] Meier was sentenced to 30 months in prison, of which he served 21 months.

Watergate[edit | edit source]

Meier has been connected to the events that led to President Richard Nixon's resignation in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

With the upcoming 1972 Presidential election, Meier, working with former Vice President Hubert Humphrey and others, wanted to feed misinformation to Richard Nixon. In late 1971, the President's brother Donald Nixon, was collecting intelligence for his brother at the time and was asking Meier about the Democratic National Chairman, Larry O'Brien, who had worked with Meier and the Hughes Organization.[citation needed]

Meier told Donald that he was sure the Democrats would win the election since they had a lot of information on Richard Nixon's illicit dealings with Howard Hughes that had never been released, and that Larry O’Brien had the information[18](O’Brien didn’t actually have any documents but Meier wanted Nixon to think he did). Donald then called his brother and told him that Meier gave the Democrats all the Hughes information that could destroy him (Richard Nixon) and that O’Brien has it.[19] This provided the President with the real motivation to break into O’Brien's office, as he wanted to see if anything was going to break before the election, and which led to the Watergate scandal and Richard Nixon being forced to resign as President of the United States.

Meier claims to have paid a political and personal price for his involvement, which included drawing the wrath of the CIA and being framed for murder in 1981 (which he fought for years and which was resolved in 1986 as the charges were dropped.)[citation needed] On May 2, 1975, CIA agent Virgino Gonzalez made public an affidavit that included information on illegal activities the CIA was doing against John Meier and further illicit activities they were still planning against him.[citation needed]

Although he had problems with the CIA in the past, Meier had maintained a good relationship with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and always remained on good terms with the FBI.

Environment[edit | edit source]

Starting with efforts to alleviate pollution,[20] Meier later became involved in the nuclear disarmament movement, serving as a director of the anti-nuclear activist group Fund For Survival whose notable members included Steve Allen and actor Robert Ryan. When the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) began conducting nuclear bomb tests in the Nevada desert, putting area residents at risk of radiation poisoning,[citation needed] Meier worked with Hughes to oppose the testing and took the AEC to task at the highest levels. Vice President Hubert Humphrey convinced President Lyndon Johnson to commission a presidential panel to study Meier's data on the AEC and nuclear testing.[citation needed]

Meier was a Special Advisor on Environment Affairs to Senator Mike Gravel, who credited Meier and Hughes with preventing the spread of nuclear power within the United States.[citation needed]

Meier served on President Nixon's Task Force on Resources and Environment and in 1970 published a book on the environment entitled Speaking for the Earth. He was also Special Advisor on Environment and Data Processing Studies in the office of Nevada Governor Paul Laxalt.[citation needed] Meier was a trustee of Nevada Essential Environmental Development Surveys Foundation, adviser to the Inter-Agency Water Pollution Control Task Force, adviser to the Rocky Mountain Center on Environment and was the founder and president of the Nevada Environmental Foundation.[citation needed]

Other activities[edit | edit source]

Meier has been an advisor to several U.S. Senators including Senators Hubert Humphrey and Robert F. Kennedy. He has acted as a consultant to President Joaquín Balaguer of the Dominican Republic and was a credentialed diplomat of Tonga.[citation needed]

He was a former Governor of the Bank of the South Pacific and has had managerial and executive positions with the New York Life Insurance Company, Remington Rand, Hughes Aircraft Company, Hughes Tool Company, and has served as Chairman of Satellite Geophysics Ltd.

Meier served on Nevada's gaming Industry Task Force, has been VP of the Nevada Taxpayers Association, and was a Special Assistant to Governor Paul Laxalt. He has also served as a Director for the International Eye Foundation, and was a member of the Board of Advisors for the New York Manhattan Tribune Newspaper.

He launched a motion picture production company, Meier-Murray Productions, with fellow Hughes consultant Thomas E. Murray, Jr.,[21] which produced two films in the early 1970s.[22]

Meier was a Member of the Child Welfare Advisory Committee (which Hughes and Governor Laxalt set up), a Member of the Impact Priority Committee, Member of the Las Vegas Council for American Society for Public Administration, Member of the Las Vegas Rotary International Rotary Club, Member-at-large of the Board of Directors for the Frontier Council Girl Scouts of America, Member of the League of Women Voters of the United States’ Men's Finance Advisory Committee, resided on the Board of Directors of the International Eye Foundation, Member of the American Industrial Development Council, was a Vice Chairman of the March of Dimes, and was on the Board of Directors of the California Educational Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to the training of emotionally disturbed and brain-damaged children, whose President was Robert Sweeney and which the board of advisors included Andy Griffith, Jim Nabors, and Dick Van Dyke.

Meier was also Vice President of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.

A former American Legion Chaplain and U.S. Army Veteran of the Korean War, Mr. Meier has also served in the US Marine Corps Reserve.

Awards[edit | edit source]

  • In a ceremony at the Washington, D.C. National Press Club (USA), he was knighted in the Sovereign Greek Order of St. Dennis of Zante
  • The covenant Christopher Columbus award, the highest decoration the Dominican Republic could bestow on a foreigner, awarded to him by President Joaquín Balaguer of the Dominican Republic
  • Cited by the government of Panama for his contributions to the battle against pollution
  • Honored by the Counsel General of China for his outstanding leadership in the business community
  • A citation from Governor Luis A. Ferré of Puerto Rico for his "extraordinary assistance" to Puerto Rico on environment, gaming, and mining
  • An award from Mayor Samuel William Yorty and the city of Los Angeles for his work in the field of ecology
  • The Aerospace Man of the Year Award for the application of computer systems in understanding industrial and institutional problems
  • An Outstanding Young Man of the Year Award in the United States
  • California Governor's Award of Technical Achievement in Data Processing
  • The Las Vegas Jaycees Distinguished Service Award
  • The Las Vegas Jaycees Outstanding Man of the Year Award

References[edit | edit source]

  • Age of Secrets: The Conspiracy that Toppled Richard Nixon and the Hidden Death of Howard Hughes written by Gerald Bellett, 1995, Voyageur North America, ISBN 0-921842-42-2
  • Howard Hughes: His Life and Madness by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, 2004, W.W. Norton and Company, ISBN 0-393-32602-0
  • Peace, War, and Politics: An Eyewitness Account written by Jack Anderson, 1999, Tom Doherty Associates, ISBN 0-312-87497-9
  • Hoax written by Stephen Fay, Lewis Chester, Magnus Linklater, 1973, Quartet Books Limited, ISBN 0-7043-1013-9
  • Howard Hughes in Las Vegas written by Omar Garrison, 1970, Lyle Stuart, Inc.
  • Speaking for the Earth written by John Meier, 1970, The Nevada Environmental Foundation

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Farrow, Moira (October 28, 1995). "Nixon bribe, international intrigue spotlighted in biography.". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2008-02-25. "While in B.C. his story was often covered for The Vancouver Sun by reporter Bellett, who won Meier's confidence and, eventually, his cooperation for this book. Bellett spent hundreds of hours interviewing Meier, and relied heavily on the careful diaries which Meier always kept." 
  2. Bellett, Gerald (1995). Age of Secrets: The Conspiracy that Toppled Richard Nixon and the Hidden Death of Howard Hughes. Voyageur North America. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Barlett, Donald L.; James B. Steele (2004). Howard Hughes: His Life & Madness. W.W Norton and Company. pp. 401. 
  4. "Hughes, Nixon and the CIA: The Watergate Conspiracy Woodward and Bernstein Missed", Playboy, September 1976
  5. "Filming Intimate Howard Hughes", USA Today, October 2, 1998
  6. "Howard Hughes' Private Mr. Clean", Los Angeles Herald Examiner, November 9, 1969
  7. "John Meier the man to see about any of Howard Hughes operations", New York Daily Column, October 1, 1969
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Nevada town hides Hughes secret", Columbian (Canada), March 3, 1976
  9. Barlett and Steele. Howard Hughes: His Life & Madness. pp. 404–405, 419. 
  10. Barlett and Steele. Howard Hughes: His Life & Madness. pp. 419. 
  11. "Town could boom again", Columbian (Canada), March 4, 1976
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Higham, Charles (2004). Howard Hughes: The Secret Life. MacMillan. pp. 241. 
  13. "John Meier is Unique in my book. He's the only gent I know that ever quit Howard Hughes", Las Vegas Sun, November 6, 1969
  14. "How I got the Hughes Papers" by John Reynolds, Canadian Review, June 1977
  15. Van Fossen, Anthony (2006). "A New Howard Hughes: John Meier, Entrepreneurship, and the International Political Economy of the Bank of the South Pacific (Ivan Molloy and Ron Reavall, eds.)" (PDF). The Eye of the Cyclone Book 2: Governance and Stability in the Pacific (Noosa Heads, Queensland: The University of the Sunshine Coast and Rock Mountain Publishing) 2: 129–162. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  16. Barlett and Steele. Howard Hughes: His Life & Madness. pp. 422. 
  17. Van Fossen, Anthony (2006). "A New Howard Hughes: John Meier, Entrepreneurship, and the International Political Economy of the Bank of the South Pacific (Ivan Molloy and Ron Reavall, eds.)" (PDF). The Eye of the Cyclone Book 2: Governance and Stability in the Pacific (Noosa Heads, Queensland: The University of the Sunshine Coast and Rock Mountain Publishing) 2: 129–162. Retrieved 2008-02-27. "The documents, which were supposed to be the detailed personal and financial records of Hughes and which were entered into court in his civil suit against the Hughes organisation, were considered by the court to include papers forged in Meier's Vancouver home." 
  18. The Mystery Behind the Break-In, Probe, January–February 1995
  19. Age of Secrets: The Conspiracy that Toppled Richard Nixon and the Hidden Death of Howard Hughes written by Gerald Bellett, 1995, Voyageur North America, ISBN 0-921842-42-2
  20. Pollution Big Health Menace, Las Vegas Sun, January 9, 1969
  21. Barlett and Steele. Howard Hughes: His Life & Madness. pp. 409. 
  22. "Index to Motion Picture Credits: Meier-Murray Productions". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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