Senate backs diary supoena



WASHINGTON (AP)—The Senate Tuesday night voted to back the ethics committee’s enforcement of a subpoena for Sen. Bob Packwood’s diaries, culminating a wrenching debate over how to police members’ conduct.

The 94-6 vote authorized Senate to file a lawsuit seeking an order to force a defiant Packwood to comply with the demand for wholesale access to his personal writings.

Summing up the arguments of senators who backed the committee, the Senate’s senior Democrat, Robert C. Byrd, said, ‘‘I believe he (Packwood) has lost his grasp of what it means to be a U.S. senator.’‘

‘‘None of us is without flaws,’‘ the West Virginia Democrat said. ‘‘But when those flaws damage the institution of the Senate, it is time to have the grace to go.’‘

The vote came after the Senate rejected an attempt to narrow the scope of the subpoena by a vote of 77-23.

Senators turned down Sen. Alan K. Simpson’s proposal and his emotional plea that the committee’s request was so broad it was ‘‘frightening.’‘ Instead, they accepted the riveting argument of committee leaders that anything less than full compliance would let Packwood determine what is ‘‘relevant.’‘

‘‘The proposal suggests that there be two standards,’‘ one for the Senate and one for other Americans, said committee Chairman Richard H. Bryan.

Packwood spent much of the day parrying with leaders of the ethics committee in a wrenching floor debate over allegations that he sexually harassed women, intimidated would-be witnesses and then resisted Senate attempts to investigate him.

Packwood was not on the floor when Byrd called for his resignation, but his lawyers were present.

Byrd said Packwood has chosen to stay ‘‘in spite of the continuing damage he is doing to the body by prolonging this matter and refusing to comply with the ethics committee’s request.’‘

Before Byrd made his dramatic speech, short-tempered senators clashed over Packwood’s diaries, with one lawmaker calling the subpoena ‘‘frightening.’‘ Another countered that anything less than full compliance would be a cover-up of potential sexual misconduct and criminality.

Packwood himself disclosed that the original sexual misconduct controversy had been expanded to questions of whether he attempted to have lobbyists hire his wife in exchange for some senatorial ‘‘quid pro quo.’‘

The Oregon senator, backed by some fellow Republicans on the subpoena issue, offered to give his diaries to a neutral third party. The independent examiner could then decide which issues were relevant and turn them over to the ethics committee.

The panel rejected the offer, saying no other American would have the right to bargain this way over the terms of a subpoena.

The first crack appeared in the previously unanimous ethics committee Tuesday night when Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, backed a compromise for Packwood to turn over ‘‘relevant’‘ portions of his diaries. The panel’s chairman and vice chairman urged rejection, saying that it would allow Packwood and not the committee to determine ‘‘relevance.’‘

On the second day of sometimes acrimonious debate on the Senate floor, senators struggled for hours to find a solution to competing interests: the committee’s request for all Packwood’s diaries and the Oregon Republican’s right to privacy.

Senate Republican Whip Alan K. Simpson, answering those who said women are carefully watching the case, said, ‘‘What we have some trouble with here is political correctness. We probably don’t get it, because political correctness or media pressure has nothing to do with justice or freedom or due process.’‘

Simpson said the committee request for all of Packwood’s diaries was ‘‘frightening in its scope’‘ because it wasn’t narrowed to ‘‘relevant’‘ information involving sexual misconduct, intimidation of witnesses and the hiring issue.

Responding, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., urged senators to reject narrowing the committee’s request—with the independent hearing examiner determining relevancy.

‘‘I call it a cover-up,’‘ she said. ‘‘We are not selecting a filter, we are selecting a censor.’‘

Packwood said Tuesday he would turn over ‘‘every scintilla of information’‘ in his diaries on efforts to have lobbyists hire his former wife.

It was Packwood himself who told a rapt chamber that the committee raised questions about his ‘‘helping Mrs. Packwood find employment and linkage to official duties.’‘ Packwood said the job solicitations involved four people, two of them lobbyists, but did not elaborate.

However the core of the arguments focused on this question: Can the committee gain access to material containing potential evidence of misconduct ranging beyond earlier allegations of sexual harassment.

Packwood offere to provide all diary entries on the employment opportunities for his former wife, Georgie, in addition to his longstanding proposal to turn over everything involving the original allegations: that he made unwanted sexual advances to more than two dozen women and tried to intimidate some of them to keep them quiet.

Packwood and his wife were divorced in 1991.

Packwood’s offer was embraced by Sens. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and John Danforth, R-Mo., who offered it as an amendment to a pending motion which would put the Senate on record as authorizing a lawsuit to obtain the diaries.

Under the proposal, Packwood would relinquish his diaries to a neutral third party—former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Kenneth Starr—who would forward relevant material to the committee.

‘‘Take that decision out of the hands of Sen. Packwood and put that decision into the hands of the examiner … Kenneth Starr, so there would be no doubt,’‘ Specter said.

Bryan, D-Nev., and Vice Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said they rejected Packwood’s offer, in part because it would give him a choice unavailable to ordinary Americans facing a subpoena of their records.