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Eldon Dean Rudd

Posted 2008-11-20 by Judy Wight Branson
The Washington Times, Washington, D.C.
Friday, February 15, 2002

Eldon Rudd, Ex-Arizona Congressman, FBI Agent, Dies at 81

Eldon Rudd, a former congressman from Arizona and FBI agent, died Feb. 8 of congestive heart failure after a stroke at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 81 years of age.

Mr. Rudd was born in Camp Verde, Ariz., and graduated from Arizona State University in Tempe before serving in the Marines as an F-4U Corsair fighter pilot on carriers during World War II. He obtained a law degree from the University of Arizona after the war, then joined the FBI as a special agent.

He was assigned to the FBI's Washington field office during the 1950s. Mr. Rudd investigated ties of President Kennedy's assassin to the Soviet Union and Cuba's communist regime in 1963.

After retiring from the FBI, he entered politics in Arizona and served as a Maricopa County supervisor before being elected to the House of Representatives in 1976.

He served five terms, including eight years on the House Appropriations Committee, where he led efforts to separate the U.S. Capitol Police from the Metropolitan Police Department in order to have independent protection of the Capitol buildings and grounds. His House voting record was rated strongly conservative by the American Conservative Union and other groups.

His funeral service Monday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Scottsdale was attended by many current and former national and state political leaders, including former Vice President Dan Quayle and former House Republican leader John J. Rhodes.

Mr. Rhodes credited his former colleague with being the House Republican leader's trusted "eyes and ears" in the House, saying the former 20-year FBI special agent and legal attache in Mexico City "had a feel for what was going on and could report back to me. ... "

"He was a man of great integrity, a straight arrow," Mr. Rhodes said.

Then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover gave Mr. Rudd his choice assignment at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City from 1960 to 1970 because Mr. Rudd, fluent in Spanish, had gained vital information from Puerto Rican terrorists apprehended after firing guns into the U.S. House of Representatives from the gallery in 1954, family members and longtime associates revealed in tributes.

When Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy from the book depository in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, Mr. Rudd was ordered by FBI headquarters to gather all intelligence in Mexico City on Oswald's trips to Cuba, including meetings at the Soviet embassy in Havana and with associates of communist dictator Fidel Castro. Mr. Rudd flew the records to FBI officials in Dallas the next day, but Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby, a Dallas restaurant owner, as he was being escorted by police for court arraignment.

Mr. Rudd also was cited as being the person who sent then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan so-called "debate papers" prepared in the White House by President Carter's staff, containing "opposition research" to use against Mr. Reagan in the 1980 presidential debates.

The Arizona congressman obtained the Carter debate materials from a former FBI agent, whose source was a White House informant unhappy about the use of taxpayer funds to mount a political offensive against Mr. Reagan "and wanted to even up the playing field," a former aide told people attending a vigil for Mr. Rudd in Scottsdale on Sunday afternoon.

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Ann Merritt Rudd; and two daughters, Carolyn and Katherine.

Burial with military honors was at the National Memorial Cemetery in Phoenix.

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