According to the Washington Post, in 1964, the FBI under then director J. Edgar Hoover tried to ascertain whether Jack Valenti, then a White House aide, was gay. No proof was ever found, but the revelation illustrates how the FBI operated during the Hoover years.
The investigation seemed to focus on Jack Valenti’s relationship with a male photographer that one FBI memo described as having “–the reputation of being a homosexual.” The investigation did not find any evidence that Jack Valenti ever had a same sex relationship or was in any way attracted to men. In fact, the investigation seemed to indicate just the opposite. Jack Valenti was a happily married man at the time of the investigation and, when he was a bachelor, was known to date attractive women.
After a three year stint at the White House, Jack Valenti became head of the Motion Picture Association and became the chief lobbyist for the motion picture industry in Washington. Jack Valenti held the job until 2004, shortly before his death.
The investigation of Jack Valenti’s sexual preference by the FBI was part of a strategy by J. Edgar Hoover to gain leverage over the White House by obtaining embarrassing secrets. That strategy was one reason why Hoover remained director of the FBI until his death in 1972. Presidents during Hoover’s long term as FBI Director would interfere with the operation of the FBI at their peril.
There has also been a suggestion of a deeper, more psychological reason for investigations of people like Jack Valenti for their sexual preference. J. Edgar Hoover was rumored to have been gay himself. Hoover, who never married, had a long term personal relationship with his aide Clyde Tolson.
Nevertheless, in the early 1960s, allegations of homosexuality could ruin a political career, something then President Lyndon Johnson was concerned about. According to the documents obtained by the Washington Post, then White House aide and current liberal public TV commentator Bill Moyers sought information on the sexual preference of members of the White House staff.
Even in these more enlightened times, allegations of homosexuality can be damaging to a political career, if the right person is accused. Liberal Democrats, such as Congressman Barney Frank, can live outside the closet with impunity. But conservative Republican Senator Larry Craig was damaged by accusations that he had tried to solicit sex from an undercover police officer in an airport men’s room. Craig, unlike Frank, was insistent that he is not gay and that the accusations were false.
Source: Valenti’s Sexuality Was Topic For FBI, Joe Stephens, Washington Post, February 19th, 2009