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Robert William "Bob" Packwood (born September 11, 1932) is an Americanmarker politician from Oregonmarker and a member of the Republican Party. He resigned from the United States Senate, under threat of expulsion, in 1995 after allegations of sexual harassment, abuse and assault of women emerged.

Early life and career

Lawyer turned legislator

Packwood was born in Portland, Oregonmarker, and is the great-grandson of William H. Packwood, the youngest member of the Oregon Constitutional Convention of 1857. He graduated from Willamette Universitymarker in Salemmarker in 1954 where he was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Packwood graduated from the New York University School of Lawmarker in 1957. He was admitted to the bar in 1957 and practiced law in Portlandmarker. He was a member of the Oregon Legislative Assembly from 1963 to 1968. He founded the Dorchester Conference in the mid-'60s. Initially a forum for liberal politics, it has become an annual networking event for Oregon Republicans.

U.S. Senator

Packwood was elected to the Senate in 1968, defeating Wayne Morse. He was reelected in 1974, 1980, 1986 and 1992. Packwood chaired the powerful Senate Finance Committee from 1985 to 1987, when he was instrumental in passage of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, and again in 1995. He was chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, 1979-1980. His voting record was moderate. He introduced the Senate's first abortion legalization bill in 1970, and his pro-choice stance earned him the loyalty of many feminist groups, and the opposition of pro-life groups. He supported restrictions on gun owners and liberal civil rights legislation. In 1987 Packwood crossed party line to vote against the nomination of Robert Bork into the Supreme Courtmarker, and he was one of only two Republicans to vote against the nomination of Clarence Thomas into the court. In 1993 he was the only Senator to vote against mandatory life imprisonment for persons convicted of a third violent felony.

In 1988, Packwood was carried feet-first into the Senate Chamber by Capitol Police for a quorum call on campaign finance reform legislation.

Road to resignation

Sexual misconduct allegations

Packwood's political career began to unravel in November 1992, when a Washington Post story detailed the claims of sexual abuse and assault by 10 women, chiefly former staffers and lobbyists. Publication of the story was delayed until after the election, as Packwood had denied the allegations and the Post had not gathered enough of the story to go to press with it at the time. Packwood defeated Democrat Les AuCoin 52.1% to 46.5%.

As the situation developed, Packwood's diary became an issue. Wrangling over whether the diary could be subpoenaed and whether it was protected by the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination ensued. He did turn over 5000 pages to the Senate Ethics Committee but balked when a further 3200 pages were demanded by the committee. It was discovered that he had edited the diary, removing what were allegedly references to sexual encounters and the sexual abuse allegations made against him. Packwood then made what some of his colleagues interpreted as a threat to expose wrongdoing by other members of Congress. The diary allegedly detailed some of his abusive behavior toward women and, according to a press statement made by former Nevada Senator Richard Bryan, other, possibly criminal activities.

Expulsion recommendation and resignation

Notwithstanding public pressure for open and public hearings, the Senate ultimately decided against public hearings. With pressure mounting against him, Packwood finally announced his resignation from the Senate on September 7, 1995, after the Senate Ethics Committee unanimously recommended that he be expelled from the Senate for ethical misconduct. (The Ethics Committee membership is evenly divided between both parties.)

After the U.S. Senate

Soon after leaving the Senate, Packwood founded a lobbying firm called Sunrise Research Corporation. Among other projects, he played a key role in the 2001 fight to repeal the estate tax. In 2008, he earned $200,000 lobbying for Molina Healthcare.

References

  1. U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records, Roll Call Vote
  2. U.S. Senate: Art & History, Quorum Busting
  3. "Senator Robert Packwood's History of Sexual Harassment"
  4. Washingtonpost.com Special Report: Clinton Accused
  5. "PACKWOOD STORY ANGERS OREGON WOMEN WANT HIM TO RESIGN", Joel Connnelly, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 5, 1992 p. A1.
  6. "No Thanks for the Memories"


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