Senator Says Expulsion Unwarranted Even if Found Guilty
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sen. Bob Packwood said Tuesday he should not be expelled from the Senate even if the ethics committee finds him guilty of all the allegations of sexual and official misconduct facing him.
The Oregon Republican said in an interview with The Associated Press the only senators ever expelled were those found guilty of treason. He said the allegations against him are not comparable to treason.
``When you have one complaint in 12 years, when you have others that are 15, 20 (years), a quarter century old and the only reason we have expelled people is for treason, do you put that on the same scale?″ Packwood asked.
Does Packwood? ``No,″ he answered.
The senator also denied for the first time publicly that he or anyone else altered his diaries before they were turned over to the Senate Ethics Committee.
``No altered diaries were ever given to the committee,″ he said in a telephone interview from New York City.
``The committee never received any altered materials. The tapes were original. I think beyond that, I’m not going to get into it,″ he said.
Packwood made his comments to the AP after he taped an interview with Jane Pauley scheduled to be aired Tuesday night on ``Dateline NBC.″ He also was scheduled to appear Wednesday morning on ABC’s ``Good Morning America.″
The ethics committee concluded in May there was ``substantial credible evidence″ that Packwood made unwanted sexual advances toward 17 women in 18 instances between 1969 and 1990.
It issued the same finding for allegations that Packwood sought jobs for his wife _ as the couple was divorcing _ from lobbyists and businessmen with interests in legislation; and altered his diaries when he learned that they might be subpoenaed.
Packwood on Tuesday challenged the women’s claims they were offended by what they portrayed as sexual advances. He said he doesn’t understand why some of his accusers continued volunteering on his campaigns, sought employment in his office and wrote him letters in the months and years following the alleged incidents.
``It’s not a question of the stories they tell; it is what happened afterwards,″ Packwood told the AP. He said none of the women ever indicated to him they were troubled by his behavior.
If the ethics committee finds Packwood guilty, punishment could range from a formal reprimand, to recommendations the his seniority be forfeited or that he be expelled from the Senate. Action by the full Senate would be required on either of those recommendations.
Fifteen senators have been expelled, one in 1797 and 14 during the Civil War _ all treason related, according to Congressional Quarterly’s ``Guide to Congress.″ The 14 Southern senators expelled from 1861 to 1862 were removed for supporting the Confederate rebellion.
Formal expulsion proceedings have been instituted nine times since the Civil War, always without success. However, Sen. Harrison Williams Jr., D-N.J., was facing expulsion over allegations of corruption when he resigned in March 1982.
In the interview with the AP, Packwood did not name any of the women that he says maintained relationships with him after the dates they allege to have been victimized by his advances. He said at least two of the women continued to work on his campaigns or seek employment in his Senate office after the alleged incidents of misconduct. One woman was a volunteer on his 1980 campaign, he said.
``What would you think if somebody said in February 1980, he kissed me. Then she kissed me the next day. She works for the campaign _ during 1984, 1985, 1986, she worked for the campaign. Wouldn’t you presume she was so repulsed, so offended, that she wouldn’t come back?″ Packwood asked.
Aides to Packwood also provided the AP with a copy of a letter they say was written to Packwood on June 1, 1984, from a woman who accused him of making an uninvited sexual advance when she was working for him as a 17-year-old intern in 1983.
The woman has told The Washington Post that Packwood came to her home in Bethesda, Md., to deliver a letter of recommendation he wrote on her behalf.
The woman said Packwood tried to hug her. When she freed herself and showed him to the door, he ``laid a juicy kiss on my lips. I could feel the tongue coming,″ she said. She said she was so ``shaken″ that she double-locked the front door after Packwood left.
Packwood has denied her story _ one of two allegations of misconduct made public since the Senate voted earlier this month against holding public hearings in his case.
A copy of the handwritten letter dated June 1, 1984, provided to the AP thanks Packwood for letters of recommendation he wrote on her behalf to colleges where she was applying. In part, it read:
``Any words I might write would not convey the gratitude I feel towards you.... With the tremendous help of your letter of recommendation, I was accepted by Harvard, Yale, Brown and Penn.... With you I took my first step into politics and, unlike many other interns, I was not disillusioned but inspired.... Thank you again Senator Packwood for everything. I hope all goes well with you. Fondly....″
Aides to Packwood whited out the woman’s name.
The woman’s lawyer, Neil W. Eggleston of Washington, was not immediately available for comment, a woman answering the phone at his law office said Tuesday.
But Eggleston told ``Dateline NBC″ that his client ``gave her evidence under oath in a deposition to the ethics committee.″
``She told about this event in enormous detail,″ Eggleston said. ``If Senator Packwood is going to be disputing what this person and the other 20 or women say, he should do so at public hearings, not press releases and vague denials through the press.″
Packwood said in the interview with Pauley that two years ago he would have welcomed a public hearing.
``Now my desire is to get over and not have another, who knows, two months, four months, six months eight months,″ he said, adding the length of such a proceeding would make ``the O.J. Simpson trial ... pale in comparison.″