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Packwood Allegedly Sought Out Damaging Information With PM-Sex Harassment-Legislatures, Bjt

December 4, 1992

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Sen. Bob Packwood tried to gather potentially damaging information about a woman who would later accuse him of sexually harassing her with an unwanted kiss, a former supporter says.

Mabsie Walters, a former president of the Oregon chapter of the National Abortion Rights Action League, said Packwood called her Nov. 9 to ask questions about Mary Heffernan, who founded the chapter.

One question was whether Heffernan had ever had a nervous breakdown, Walters said Thursday.

Heffernan is one of 15 women who have accused the Oregon Republican of making unwelcome sexual advances over a period of two decades. She said Packwood grabbed her arms and kissed her during a visit to his office in the early 1980s.

Packwood’s call to Walters was almost two weeks before the Washington Post broke the sexual harassment story. The newspaper had been in contact with Packwood in early November about it.

Walters, who worked on Packwood’s 1980 campaign, said the senator called her often enough that at first she didn’t consider the call unusual. She said she and Packwood chatted before the senator asked a question about Heffernan: ″Didn’t she have a nervous breakdown?″

Walters said she replied, ″I never heard that.″

Asked for comment, a spokeswoman in Packwood’s Portland office referred to a remark made Thursday in Washington by Elaine Franklin, Packwood’s chief of staff.

Franklin’s remark was: ″I’ve got a story for you - ‘Packwood aide likens media to Alice in Wonderland.’ ... That means verdict first, evidence later.″

Heffernan said she didn’t know why Packwood would ask that question. ″There is absolutely nothing like that in my history,″ she said.

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