Mikulski resigns from ethics panel with Packwood out Md. senator stayed longer than planned

October 05, 1995|By JOHN B. O'DONNELL | JOHN B. O'DONNELL,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- With Bob Packwood gone, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland has resigned from the committee that spent nearly three years investigating the Oregon Republican, eventually forcing him to resign from the Senate.

An aide said the Baltimore Democrat would remain on the Select Committee on Ethics until Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle recruits a replacement.

Mr. Daschle also needs to find a second Democrat to replace Sen. Richard H. Bryan of Nevada, who has resigned from the panel, according to the Hill, a newspaper that covers the Capitol.

Ms. Mikulski said in a statement yesterday that she had agreed to spend two years on the committee but stayed longer to see the Packwood matter to completion.

Saying she would "continue to work for Maryland in the Senate to save jobs, to save lives and to save communities," she showed no regret at leaving the committee.

The Ethics Committee is considered one of the most unpopular panels on which to serve. Senators are required to sit in judgment of their colleagues, sometimes even as they are seeking support from them for legislation.

Ms. Mikulski had made it clear that she did not relish her work on the committee -- which aides said sometimes took 20 hours a week during the Packwood probe -- or the decision to expel the senator.

In January 1993, then-Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell named Ms. Mikulski to what had been an all-male committee as it was about to begin a probe of sexual misconduct charges against Mr. Packwood. The charges surfaced just after Mr. Packwood's election to a fifth term in November 1992.

Recalling the criticism of an all-male Judiciary Committee weighing Anita Hill's sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings, Mr. Mitchell wanted a woman on the Ethics Committee for the Packwood probe and turned to Ms. Mikulski.

The senior Democratic woman in the Senate, she also was the first senator to demand an Ethics Committee investigation of Mr. Packwood.

Unlike the Judiciary Committee, the ethics panel conducted its investigation behind closed doors.

The committee unanimously recommended a month ago that the Senate expel Mr. Packwood, prompting him to resign last month.

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