Bob Packwood (born September 11, 1932) was an American politician from Oregon and a member of the Republican Party. He was forced to resign from the United States Senate in 1995 after allegations of sexual harassment of women emerged.
He was born in Portland, Oregon. He graduated from Willamette University in 1954 and then graduated from the New York University School of Law in 1957. He was admitted to the bar in 1957 and practiced law in Portland, Oregon. He was a member of the Oregon Legislative Assembly from 1963 to 1968.
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. He was chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, 1979-1980. His voting record was very moderate, which matched Oregon's tradition for electing mavericks to the Senate. Packwood was staunchly pro-choice and was often targeted by religious groups for his stance. He supported gun control and civil rights for minorities. He was one of only two Republicans to vote against the nomination of Clarence Thomas into the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1993 he was the only Senator to vote against mandatory life imprisonment for persons convicted of a third violent felony.
Packwood's political demise began in November 1992, when the Washington Post outlined detailed allegations of sexual misconduct by Packwood. By threatening legal action, Packwood was able to delay publication of the story until after the election, where he defeated NOW-endorsed Les AuCoin by a razor-thin margin. NOW took up the cause of at least 29 women who eventually came forward to allege sexual abuse and assaults, dating back over the years. The sexual abuse side of Packwood's problems, played up in the public media, obscured charges that he encouraged offers of financial assistance from lobbyists and other persons who had a particular interest in legislation or issues that Senator Packwood could influence. As the situation developed, he was also charged with trying to obstruct the investigation. Nevertheless, Bob Dole's PAC donated $10,000 to Packwood's defense.
The Senate 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.
Senator Packwood's diary became a key issue: whether a diary can be subpoenaed, whether Packwood attempted to blackmail his fellow senators with threats concerning the purported content of his diaries, and his blatant excisions from it.
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.