Bloomberg News

Jobs FBI File Notes Drug Use, Tendency to ‘Distort Reality’

February 13, 2012

(Updates with FBI file information in second paragraph.)

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a decades-old file it kept on Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs that noted his past drug use and cites interviews with people who say he had a penchant to “distort reality.”

The 191 pages of FBI records are part of a 1991 background check of Jobs, who died in October 2011, for an appointment by former President George H.W. Bush to the President’s Export Council.

The file includes the results of interviews with Jobs and those who knew him. The records reinforce the picture of Jobs that has been known to many followers of his career and Apple. Biographer Walter Isaacson’s best-selling book about Jobs, released last year, outlines his use of drugs and mercurial personality. While many people interviewed by the FBI described Jobs favorably, some said he wasn’t always truthful.

“Several individuals questioned Mr. Jobs’s honesty stating that Mr. Jobs will twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals,” according to the materials released by the FBI.

Jobs was also the victim of an extortion attempt, according to the FBI’s report. The agency investigated a 1985 bomb threat against Jobs, in which an unidentified male made a series of calls and said that “devices” had been placed in homes of certain individuals and “one million dollars must be paid.”

The caller left instructions that one of the victims should go to the San Francisco Hilton hotel in order to pick up a note left under a table near a candy machine. The call-back number left by the would-be extortionist was traced to a public telephone in a parking garage at San Francisco International Airport.

Information Request

FBI records can be made public after a person’s death. Jobs’s files were released by the law enforcement agency following a Freedom of Information Act request by Bloomberg News and others. Jobs died after a long battle with a rare form of cancer. Apple, the maker of the iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac, is now the world’s most valuable company by market value.

Representatives of the FBI in Washington didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Apple, declined to comment.

Even those who disagreed with Jobs recommended him to the FBI. One person interviewed, who said Jobs was “deceptive,” ended the interview by recommending him for the government job, saying Jobs “possesses the qualities to assume a high level political position,” the FBI records say.

“Honesty and integrity are not required qualities to hold such a position,” in the opinion of the person, the records say.

Appointed to Council

Bush appointed Jobs to the President’s Export Council on May 24, 1990, where he served until the end of the of the Republican president’s term in January 1993, according to Robert Holzweiss, a researcher at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.

Jobs was ousted from Apple in 1985 following a leadership dispute with then-Chief Executive Officer John Sculley. In a section of the 1991 background check on employment history, the FBI asked Jobs to select from several reasons that his employment at Apple ended. He chose the option that said “under unfavorable circumstances.”

The FBI said interviews were conducted with former colleagues, neighbors, professional associates and social acquaintances.

Conflicting Views

The interviews show conflicting views of Jobs. One former Apple colleague whom the FBI described as bitter toward Jobs questioned his “moral character” after not being awarded stock in Apple. Another person said Jobs possessed “high moral character and integrity.”

Two other unnamed individuals the FBI interviewed said Jobs was “strong-willed, stubborn, hardworking and driven, which they believe is why he is successful.” The two people said Jobs “possesses integrity as long as he gets his way,” without elaborating.

One woman said she was reluctant to discuss Jobs with the FBI because she had “questions concerning his ethics and his morality.” She said Jobs’s personal life was “lacking” because of his “narcissism and shallowness.” Even so, the woman recommended Jobs for the appointment, calling him “a visionary and charismatic individual.”

Jobs’s Daughter

Some of those interviewed talked about Jobs’s fathering a daughter out of wedlock with Chrisann Brennan, a former girlfriend. According to earlier accounts of Jobs’s life, he had at first denied being the father, though he later reconciled with his daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs.

Jobs’s use of drugs was mentioned throughout the report. In an interview with the FBI for the 1991 background check, Jobs said he hadn’t used any illegal drugs in the prior five years, according to the agency’s records. From 1970 to 1974 he experimented with marijuana, hashish and LSD, according to the report on the Jobs interview. “This was during high school and college and he mostly used these substances by himself,” the report said.

The report also notes he had no close relatives living in communist-controlled countries.

--With assistance from Justin Blum and Jeff Bliss in Washington. Editors: Jillian Ward, Peter Blumberg

To contact the reporters on this story: Adam Satariano in San Francisco at asatariano1@bloomberg.net; Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net


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