Gary Hart (Hartpence) was born in Ottawa, Kansas, on 28th November, 1936. He graduated from Nazarene College (1958), Yale Divinity School (1961) before attending Yale University Law School.
Hart worked as an attorney for the United States Department of Justice from 1964 to 1965. He then became special assistant to the solicitor of the Department of the Interior (1965-1967). Hart then established his own law practice in Denver, Colorado.
A member of the Democratic Party he managed the campaign of George McGovern to become the party's presidential candidate in 1972. Hart also took charge of McGovern campaign to defeat Richard Nixon. Hart's strategy was disrupted by Nixon's Operation Sandwedge and Operation Gemstone. Hart was unable to convince the American public that the White House was involved in the Watergate break-in and McGovern only carried Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
Hart was elected to the Senate in 1972. In 1975, Frank Church became the chairman of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. Members of this committee included Hart (Colorado), Walter Mondale (Minnesota), Richard Schweiker (Pennsylvania), Philip Hart (Michigan), Howard Baker (Tennessee) and Barry Goldwater (Arizona). This committee investigated alleged abuses of power by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Intelligence.
The committee looked at the case of Fred Hampton and discovered that William O'Neal, Hampton's bodyguard, was a FBI agent-provocateur who, days before the raid, had delivered an apartment floor-plan to the Bureau with an "X" marking Hampton's bed. Ballistic evidence showed that most bullets during the raid were aimed at Hampton's bedroom.
Church's committee also discovered that the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation had sent anonymous letters attacking the political beliefs of targets in order to induce their employers to fire them. Similar letters were sent to spouses in an effort to destroy marriages. The committee also documented criminal break-ins, the theft of membership lists and misinformation campaigns aimed at provoking violent attacks against targeted individuals.
One of those people targeted was Martin Luther King. The FBI mailed King a tape recording made from microphones hidden in hotel rooms. The tape was accompanied by a note suggesting that the recording would be released to the public unless King committed suicide.
In September, 1975, a sub-committee made up of Hart and Richard Schweiker was asked to review the performance of the intelligence agencies in the original John F. Kennedy assassination investigation. Hart and Schweiker became very concerned about what they found. On 1st May, 1976, Hart said: "I don't think you can see the things I have seen and sit on it."
When the Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations was published in 1976, Hart joined Walter Mondale and Philip Hart to publish an appendix to the report. The three men pointed out that "important portions of the Report had been excised or security grounds". However, they believed that the CIA had "used the classification stamp not for security, but to censor material that would be embarrassing, inconvenient, or likely to provoke an adverse public reaction to CIA activities."
The appendix went on to say: "Some of the so-called security objections of the CIA were so outlandish they were dismissed out of hand. The CIA wanted to delete reference to the Bay of Pigs as a paramilitary operation, they wanted to eliminate any reference to CIA activities in Laos, and they wanted the Committee to excise testimony given in public before the television cameras. But on other more complex issues, the Committee's necessary and proper concern for caution enabled the CIA to use the clearance process to alter the Report to the point where some of its most important implications are either lost, or obscured in vague language."
Hart called for a new Senate Committee to look into the events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He said it was necessary to take a closer look at Lee Harvey Oswald and his relationship with the FBI and the CIA. In an interview he gave to the Denver Post Hart said the questions that needed answering included: "Who Oswald really was - who did he know? What affiliation did he have in the Cuban network? Was his public identification with the left-wing a cover for a connection with the anti-Castro right-wing?"
In the interview Hart went on to state that he believed Oswald was probably operating as a double-agent. He thought this was one of the reasons why the FBI and CIA had made "a conscious decision to withhold evidence from the Warren Commission."
In the summer of 1983 Hart announced his candidacy for the 1984 presidential election. Hart won several primaries, including those in New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio and California, but was eventually lost the nomination to Walter Mondale, who in turn, was defeated by Ronald Reagan.
In 1985 Hart and William S. Cohen, another member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, published the novel Double Man. According to Bob Woodward: "This is an expertly crafted thriller that is full of many uncomfortable plausibilities. Though clearly labeled fiction, it dances knowledgeably with many old and new ghosts, including the CIA, the KGB, the Kennedy assassination, terrorism, and a range of state secrets. The Double Man has to be taken, minimally, as a grim warning about the intelligence services in our own country and elsewhere."
Hart left the Senate in 1987 in order to concentrate on becoming president in 1988. He soon emerged as the Democratic Party front-runner. However, on 3rd May, 1987, the Miami Herald published a story that suggested that Hart was having a sexual relationship with Donna Rice. Hart's wife supported him claiming that his relationship with Rice was non-sexual. Two days later the Miami Herald obtained a photograph of Hart with Rice aboard the "Monkey Business". This photograph was subsequently published in The National Enquirer.
A Gallup Poll found that 64% of those surveyed thought the media treatment of Hart was "unfair" whereas 53% believed that marital infidelity had little to do with a president's ability to govern. Despite these views the stories about Rice had badly damaged his campaign. In the New Hampshire primary Hart won only 4% of the votes and soon after announced that he was withdrawing from the race.
Hart left national politics and became a lawyer in Denver. In 1998 he served on the Hart-Rudman Commission to study U.S. homeland security.
Books by Gary Hart include The Good Fight (1995), The Patriot: An Exhortation to Liberate America from the Barbarians (1996), America: Still Unprepared, Still in Danger (2003), The Fourth Power: A Grand Strategy for the United States in the Twenty-First Century (2004).
In a speech he made in Washington on 22nd November, 2005, Hart explained that in 1975, CIA director William Colby presented members of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities with details of the 600-page Inspector General report on Agency abuses. Hart added that only a few items from that report have ever been made public.