Arthur Bremer, one of four sons, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 21 August 1950. His father, William Bremer, was a truck driver. Arthur hated school and later wrote: "No English or History test was ever as hard, no math final exam ever as difficult as waiting in a school lunch line alone, waiting to eat alone... while hundreds huddeled & gossiped & roared, & laughed & stared at me."
After leaving school Bremer worked as a busboy at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. However, his habit of talking to himself disturbed the customers and some believed he was suffering from paranoia. In October, 1971 it was decided to give him a new job working in the kitchen. Bremer was unhappy with this demotion and the following month obtained a job as a school janitor.
While working as a school janitor he met 15-year-old girl, Joan Pemrich. After three dates Joan refused to see him anymore as she considered him to be "goofy" and "weird". On 13th January, 1972, Joan's mother told Bremer to leave her daughter alone. Soon afterwards Bremer purchased two handguns, a .38 caliber pistol and a 9-mm Browning automatic. After a incident where he fired bullets into a ceiling he was arrested by the police in Milwaukee. After undergoing a psychiatric evaluation he was charged with and fined for disorderly conduct.
In March, 1972, Bremer attended a George Wallace campaign meeting at Milwaukee's Red Carpet Airport Inn. At the end of the evening Bremer picked up a bundle of posters, bumper stickers and a Wallace lapel button. Over the next few days he began pasting posters on the lamposts in Milwaukee.
On 15th May, 1972, Bremer tried to assassinate George Wallace at a presidential campaign rally in Laurel, Maryland. Wallace was hit four times. Three other people, Alabama State Trooper Captain E. C. Dothard, Dora Thompson, a Wallace campaign volunteer, and Nick Zarvos, a Secret Service agent, were also wounded in the attack.
Mark Felt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation immediately took charge of the case. According to the historian Dan T. Carter (The Politics of Rage), Felt had a trusted contact in the White House: Charles Colson. Felt gave Colson the news. Within 90 minutes of the shooting Richard Nixon and Colson are recorded discussing the case. Nixon told Colson that he was concerned that Bremer might have ties to the Republican Party or, even worse, the Presidents re-election committee. Nixon also asked Colson to find a way of blaming George McGovern for the shooting.
Over the next few hours, Colson and Felt talk six times on the telephone. Felt gave Colson the address of Bremer's home. Colson now phoned E. Howard Hunt and asked him to break-in to Bremer's apartment to discover if he had any documents that linked him to Nixon or George McGovern. According to Hunt's autobiography, Undercover, he disliked this idea but made preparations for the trip. He claimed that later that night Colson calls off the operation.
At 5:00 p.m. Thomas Farrow, head of the Baltimore FBI, passed details of Bremer’s address to the FBI office in Milwaukee. Soon afterwards two FBI agents arrived at Bremer’s apartment block and begin interviewing neighbours. However, they do not have a search warrant and do not go into Bremer’s apartment.
At around the same time, James Rowley, head of the Secret Service, ordered one of his Milwaukee agents to break into Bremer’s apartment. It has never been revealed why Rowley took this action. It is while this agent is searching the apartment that the FBI discover what is happening. According to John Ehrlichman, the FBI was so angry when they discovered the Secret Service in the apartment that they nearly opened fire on them.
The Secret Service took away documents from Bremer’s apartment. It is not known if they planted anything before they left. Anyway, the FBI discovered material published by the Black Panther Party and the American Civil Liberties Union in the apartment. Both sets of agents now left Bremer’s apartment unsealed. Over the next 80 minutes several reporters enter the apartment and take away documents.
Charles Colson also phoned journalists at the Washington Post and Detroit News with the news that evidence had been found that Bremer is a left-winger and was connected to the campaign of George McGovern. The reporters were also told that Bremer is a “dues-paying member of the Young Democrats of Milwaukee”. The next day Bob Woodward (Washington Post) and Gerald terHost (Detroit News) publish this story.
The following day that the FBI discovered Bremer’s 137-page written diary in his blue Rambler car. The opening sentence was: "Now I start my diary of my personal plot to kill by pistol either Richard Nixon or George Wallace." Nixon was initially suspected of being behind the assassination but the diary gets him off the hook. The diary was eventually published as a book, An Assassin's Diary (1973).
Bremers trial lasted only five days. His attorney, Benjamin Lipsitz argued that Bremer was was a "schizophrenic" who could not be held responsible for his actions. Eight psychiatrists and two psychologists testified but they were divided on the issue of his sanity. Bremer was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 63 years in prison. In August 1972, three appeal judges reduced Bremer's sentence to 53 years.
George Wallace survived the assassination attempt. He gradually developed the view that one Nixon’s aides ordered the assassination. To gain revenge he announces he is to become a third party candidate. However, Wallace’s health has been severely damaged and reluctantly he had to pull out of the race.
In a comprehensive analysis of Hunt’s work published in The New York Review of Books in 1973, Gore Vidal argued that Hunt might have written the diary that was found in the car of Bremer, the man who attempted to assassinate George Wallace of Alabama.
In May, 1974, Martha Mitchell visited Wallace in Montgomery. She told him that her husband, John N. Mitchell, had confessed that Charles Colson had a meeting with Arthur Bremer four days before the assassination attempt.
In his book, The Taking of America, Richard E. Sprague argued that Donald Segretti and Dennis Cassini, supplied money to Bremer before he attempted to assassinate George Wallace. Others have claimed that Bernard L. Barker, one of the Watergate burglars, was used to pass this money to Bremer. Gore Vidal has also suggested that Bremer's diary was a forgery and had been written by E. Howard Hunt.
Arthur Bremer was released from the Maryland Correctional Institution on 9th November, 2007.