Bob Packwood: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Robert William Packwood

In office
January 3, 1969 – October 1, 1995
Preceded by Wayne Morse
Succeeded by Ron Wyden

Born September 11, 1932 (1932-09-11) (age 77)
Portland, Oregon, United States
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Georgie Oberteuffer (1964-1991)
Elaine Franklin (1998-Present)
Religion Unitarian Universalist

Robert William "Bob" Packwood (born September 11, 1932) is an American politician from Oregon 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, Multnomah County, graduated from Portland’s Grant High School in 1950, and then in 1954 graduated from Willamette University in Salem, where he was a member and president of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.[1]

Packwood is the great-grandson of William H. Packwood, the youngest member of the Oregon Constitutional Convention of 1857.[2] Packwood had his great-grandfather’s political bent from his early years. During his undergraduate years, he participated in Young Republican activities and worked on political campaigns, including later Governor and US Senator Mark Hatfield's first run for the Oregon House of Representatives. He received the prestigious Root-Tilden Scholarship to New York University Law School, where he earned national awards in moot court competition and was elected student body president[3] After graduating from the NYU Law School in 1957, he was admitted to the bar and practiced law in Portland.

In 1960, he was elected Chairman of the Multnomah County Republican Central Committee, thus becoming the youngest party chairman of a major metropolitan area in the country.[4] In 1962 he became the youngest member of the Oregon Legislature[5] when he was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives after a campaign waged by what the Portland Oregonian called “one of the most effective working organizations in many an election moon in Oregon.” Hundreds of volunteers went door-to-door distributing leaflets throughout the district and put up lawn signs that became “literally a geographical feature” of the district.[6] Because of the effectiveness of his own campaigns, Packwood was selected to organize a political action committee that recruited attractive Republican candidates for the Oregon House throughout the state,[7] and trained them in “Packwood-style” campaigning methods.[8][9] The success of his candidates was credited with the Republican takeover of the Oregon House, thus making Oregon the only state in the Union in which the Republicans were able to score a significant victory in 1964.[10][11][12]

He was a member of the Oregon House of Representatives from 1963 to 1968. In 1965, he founded the Dorchester Conference, an annual political conclave on the Oregon coast that “pointedly ignored state leadership in the Grand Old Party“[13] to bring Republican officeholders and citizens together to discuss current issues and pass resolutions taking stands on those issues. Initially a forum for liberal politics, it has become an annual networking event for Oregon Republicans.

U.S. Senator

In 1968, after running a statewide campaign, Packwood won the Republican nomination to run against Wayne Morse in the fall election. Morse had been elected to the Senate as a Republican in 1944 and reelected 1n 1950. He then switched parties and was easily reelected in 1956 and 1962, both times as a Democrat.[14] The relatively-unknown Packwood was given little chance, but after an 11th-hour debate with the incumbent, which Packwood was generally considered to have won[15], and a statewide recount in which over 100,000 ballots were challenged by both parties[16], Packwood was declared the winner by 3500 votes[17]. He then replaced Senator Ted Kennedy as the youngest senator.[18] Packwood was reelected in 1974, 1980, 1986 and 1992. He became “one of the country’s most powerful elected officials”.[19] His voting record was moderate. He supported [restrictions on gun owners] and liberal civil rights legislation. In 1993 he was the only Senator to vote against mandatory life imprisonment for persons convicted of a third violent felony.[20]

Two years before Roe v. Wade he introduced the Senate's first abortion legalization bills, but he was unable to attract a co-sponsor for either.[21] His [pro-choice] stance earned him the loyalty of many feminist groups[22] and numerous awards including those from the Planned Parenthhood Federation of America (Jan 10, 1983) and the National Women’s Political Caucus (Oct 23, 1985). It also earned him the opposition of [pro-life] groups.[23] In 1987 Packwood crossed [party lines] to vote against the nomination of [Robert Bork] to the [Supreme Court], and he was one of only two Republicans to vote against the nomination of [Clarence Thomas] to the court.[24] Both votes were based on the nominees’ opposition to abortion rights.[25]

Packwood differed with President Richard M. Nixon on some prominent issues. He voted against Nixon’s Supreme Court nominees Clement Haysworth and G. Harrold Carswell, “two of Nixon’s most embarrassing defeats,”[26] as well as Nixons’s proposals for the B-1 bomber, the Trident Submarine and the supersonic transport (SST).[27] He became the first Senate Republican to support Nixon’s impeachment.[28]In a White House meeting of November 15, 1973, he told President Nixon that the public no longed believed the President and no longer trusted the integrity of the administration.[29]

He played a major role in the enactment of the [Hells Canyon National Recreation Area] Act[30], which protected scenic [Hells Canyon], the deepest river gorge in North America, by making it into a 652,488-acre [National Recreation Area] on the borders of northeastern Oregon and western Idaho.[31] Packwood sponsored the bill, and was credited with becoming “a genuine leader in the preservation battle” in the Congress and in the end, second only to the idea’s originator “the single most important individual in the history of Hells Canyon preservation”[32]Environmentalists also praised his advocacy of solar energy, returnable bottles and bike paths. [33]

Deregulation was another interest. In the late 70’s he became a passionate supporter of trucking deregulation and a “persuasive spokesman for reform.” When deregulation became law, “newspaper editorials praised Packwood for his pivotal role in the deregulation battle.”[34]

He was most noted for his role in the 1986 “unlikely triumph of tax reform” while he was chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee.[35] President [Ronald Reagan] had proposed the idea of tax reform in 1984, but Packwood's initial response was indifference. However, he played a leading role in fashioning "a radically new tax code that will raise business taxes by some $120 billion over five years—and lower personal income taxes by roughly the same amount."[36] Historians of the Act have written that his turnaround “revived the dying tax reform bill”[37], and credited his “ingenuity and astonishing legislative skill” with passage of the law[38], which “despite its warts and wrinkles…succeeded at the fundamental purpose of reform.”[39] Packwood’s debating skills were rated A+ in USA Today, July 18, 1986. But his debating and legislative skills could kill bills as well as pass them. His “masterful” floor management has been credited with killing President Clinton’s 1993 health care bill.[40] And he could be stubborn; in 1988 he was carried feet-first into the Senate Chamber by Capitol Police for a [quorum call] on campaign finance reform legislation.[41]

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.[42] 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.[43][44] 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, “raised questions about possible violations of one or more laws, including criminal laws."[45]

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,[42] 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. The former senator used his expertise in taxes and trade and his status as a former Senate Finance Committee chairman to land lucrative contracts with numerous clients, among them Northwest Airlines, Freightliner Corp. and Marriott International Inc.[46] Among other projects, he played a key role in the 2001 fight to repeal the estate tax.


  1. ^ "Bob Packwood". Retrieved 2009-12-21.  
  2. ^ Dielman, Gary. "William Packwood (1832-1917)". The Oregon Encyclopedia. Portland State University. Retrieved 2009-04-02.  
  3. ^ Oregon Encyclopedia. "Robert Packwood (1932-)." Portland State University. (accessed December 21, 2009).
  4. ^ Kirchmeier, Mark. 1995. Packwood: the public and private life from acclaim to outrage. [San Francisco]: HarperCollinsWest. pp 80-82.
  5. ^ Kirchmeier, Mark. 1995. Packwood: the public and private life from acclaim to outrage. [San Francisco]: HarperCollinsWest. pp 87.
  6. ^ Portland Oregonian December 2, 1962
  7. ^ Oregon Encyclopedia. "Robert Packwood (1932-)." Portland State University. (accessed December 21, 2009).
  8. ^ Balmer, Western Political Quarterly, June, 1965.
  9. ^ Oregon Journal, June 15, 1965.
  10. ^ Balmer, Western Political Quarterly, June, 1965.
  11. ^ Oregon Journal, June 15, 1965.
  12. ^ Oregon Voter, July 10, 1965
  13. ^ Christian Science Monitor, April 27, 1965
  14. ^ Morse
  15. ^ Portland Oregonian, October 26, 1968
  16. ^ Portland Oregonian, December 24, 1968
  17. ^ Myers, Clay. Oregon Blue Book. Salem, Oregon: Office of the Secretary of State, 1970
  18. ^ Kirchmeier, p. 105
  19. ^ Zusman, Mark; Henry Stern, “Bob Packwood”, Willamette Week, September 16,2009.
  20. ^ “Bob Packwood,”
  21. ^ S.1750 and S.1751, 92d Congress 1st Sess. May 3, 1971
  22. ^ O'Beirne, Kate (October 9, 1995). "Bread & circuses - Senator Bob Packwood's public and private stance on women". National Review.;col1. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
  23. ^ “Bob Packwood,”
  24. ^ “Bob Packwood,”
  25. ^ “Robert Packwood (1932- )”, The Oregon Encyclopedia. Portland State University.
  26. ^ Kirchmeier, p. 124.
  27. ^ Kirchmeier, p. 124.
  28. ^ Kirchmeier, inside front jacket.
  29. ^ Lukas, J. Anthony. 1976. Nightmare: the underside of the Nixon years. New York: Viking Press, p. 452.
  30. ^ Public Law 94-199, Dec 31, 1975,, accessed 12-20-09.
  31. ^, accessed 12-20-09.
  32. ^ Ashworth, William. 1977. Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge on earth. New York: Hawthorn Books, p. 160; Nokes, Portland Oregonian, July 10,1990.
  33. ^ Kirchmeier, p. 153.
  34. ^ Robyn, Dorothy L. 1987. Braking the special interests: trucking deregulation and the politics of policy reform. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 73, 200,204,217.
  35. ^ Birnbaum, Jeffrey H., and Alan S. Murray. 1987. Showdown at Gucci Gulch: lawmakers, lobbyists, and the unlikely triumph of tax reform. New York: Random House.
  36. ^ The Oregon Encyclopedia
  37. ^ Smith, Hedrick. 1988. The power game: how Washington works. New York: Random House, p. 17.
  38. ^ Smith, p. 483
  39. ^ Birnbaum and Murray, p.189.
  40. ^ O’Donnell, Lawrence, on, accessed 12-20-09.
  41. ^ United States. 1990s. Art & history. The Senate Historical Office. S.l: s.n., accessed 12-20-09.
  42. ^ a b "Senator Robert Packwood's History of Sexual Harassment"
  43. ^ Special Report: Clinton Accused
  44. ^ "PACKWOOD STORY ANGERS OREGON WOMEN WANT HIM TO RESIGN", Joel Connnelly, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 5, 1992 p. A1.
  45. ^ "No Thanks for the Memories"
  46. ^ Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 4, 1998.

External links

United States Senate
Preceded by
Wayne Morse
United States Senator (Class 3) from Oregon
1969 – 1995
Served alongside: Mark Hatfield
Succeeded by
Ron Wyden
Political offices
Preceded by
Howard Cannon
Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee
1981 – 1985
Succeeded by
John Danforth
Preceded by
Bob Dole
Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee
1985 – 1987
Succeeded by
Lloyd Bentsen
Preceded by
Pat Moynihan
Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee
January 4, 1995 – September 12, 1995
Succeeded by
Bill Roth
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ted Stevens
Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
1977 – 1979
Succeeded by
H. John Heinz III
Preceded by
Carl T. Curtis
Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference
1979 – 1981
Succeeded by
James A. McClure
Preceded by
H. John Heinz III
Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
1981 – 1983
Succeeded by
Richard Lugar

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