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From Packwood to Foley: When "No" Means "Ewwww"


If you're shocked by the Mark Foley affair, the nauseating sexual advances, the cover-up by the GOP leadership, you need a refresher course in Packwood 101. It's deja vu all over (and over) again, from the covered up allegations of serial sexual harassment to the obligatory trip to rehab.

Bob Packwood, of course, was a powerful Republican senator from Oregon, from 1968 until he resigned in disgrace in 1995. Like Mark Foley, he was a vocal advocate for precisely the people he was victimizing--women, in Packwood's case. He was a strong supporter of abortion rights, and women's groups seemed to look the other way, at least at first, when persistent complaints about his groping, grabbing and slobbering began to surface. (His signature move was to come up behind a victim, spin her around and thrust his tongue down her throat.)

Like Mark Foley, at least one of Packwood's victims was a teenager, a 17 year old intern.

And, like Mark Foley, Mr. Packwood enjoyed writing about his sexual adventures. This was the early '90s and there was no IM system, so he kept old fashioned diaries. Here's an excerpt:


"About 4:30 we had a staff party. It started slow and got bigger. None of the professional Finance Committee came but the clericals came. We drank for about an hour and a half and played charades. At about 7:00 we began to dwindle and drift except for finally (name omitted). And we sat in the office. She is a very sexy thing. Bright-eyes and hair and that ability to shift her hips. . . . Well, I won't bore you with all the details of the evening. (Name Omitted) and I made love. . . . Now bear in mind this is an hour and a half after we've made love and we're both still nude and lying on the rug. What I didn't know until later -- get this -- is that (two names omitted) were still there in the outer office and they left us alone."

Hold on a second, I just vomited in my own mouth. Let's find something a little tamer. Here's one, about styling his hair:


"I just blew it until it was about dry, combed it, and if it didn't come out looking just right! It had just the right amount of bounce to it, and wave to it. I came back rather confident."

You see, Foley fans? Straight guys care about their appearances, too!

As with the Foley case, a news organization got hold of the Packwood story weeks before the 1992 elections. But when Packwood vehemently denied (lied about) the accusations, the Washington Post held it until after the election. Once he was safely re-elected the story broke.

When his pattern of sexually assaulting staffers, lobbyists, elevator operators, and others came to light, Packwood did what any honorable Republican would do--he blamed it on booze, and went to rehab. Sound familiar?

In the Packwood case, there were similar calls for an immediate ethics investigation, and the Senate ethics committee began its probe of Packwood just weeks after the story broke. The investigation dragged on for oh, about two years. Today we learned that the GOP leadership had been warned about Foley three years ago. Republicans on the Senate Ethics committee protected Packwood by blocking repeated efforts by the Democrats to hold public hearings.

Packwood went about his daily Senate business until 1995, when the Ethics committee finally voted to expel him from the Senate, and he quit.

The Justice Department investigated allegations that he obstructed justice by altering his diaries to remove incriminating evidence, and shook down lobbyists to put his ex-wife on their payrolls so that he could stop paying her alimony. In the end, though, the government didn't prosecute him.

Since he'd already been to rehab, there was nothing else for Mr. Packwood to do except set up shop as a lobbyist in Washington. You'll find him, hanging with his old buddies, as if nothing happened.

(You can learn more--way more--about your favorite Republicans in Naked Republicans, A full Frontal exposure of Right-Wing hypocrisy and Greed.)