Ex-senator postpones retirement from his lobbying firm

Former U.S. Sen. Bob Packwood won't be moving back to Oregon just yet.

Two years ago, the longtime senator said he planned to give up his Washington, D.C., lobbying business and retire to Oregon at the end of the 107th Congress, which wound up last month.

Packwood said this week, however, that he will operate his business, Sunrise Research, through the 108th Congress and will retire at the end of 2004.

'It isn't fair to abandon my clients in midstream,' he said in Portland before leaving for Washington late last week.

Business has been good for Sunrise Research, which has only one other employee besides Packwood. The company brought in $1.4 million in 2001 with a client list that includes the American Public Power Association; North American Coal; Social Health Maintenance Organizations, a consortium of pilot federal health care programs; and American Business Is Local Enterprise, a coalition to repeal the estate tax.

'Most issues are under the radar,' he said. 'They usually aren't the kind of issues that members are asked about back home at the Rotary (club).'

Packwood, who turned 70 on Sept. 11, spent 27 years representing Oregon in the U.S. Senate, winning election five times. He was chairman of the tax-writing Finance Committee and was widely respected for his expertise on taxes and health care.

Less than three weeks after his 1992 election, though, he was accused of making unwanted sexual advances to women employees and colleagues. He resigned in the fall of 1995 after the Senate Ethics Committee recommended his expulsion on allegations of sexual misconduct, improperly soliciting jobs from lobbyists for his then-wife, Georgia, and altering entries in his diary, which were part of the ethics investigation.

Income has risen steadily for Sunrise Research since it opened for business in 1997. That first year it generated $580,000; it billed $1.5 million in 2000. Packwood and his wife, Elaine Franklin, a political strategist, divide their time between a house in Dunthorpe and a condo in Washington.

Two years ago, Packwood announced he would retire to Portland at the end of 2002 to a life of writing and promoting civic improvements. Last spring, Franklin left the Republican Party to protest its conservative leanings.

But much to the chagrin of some Republican leaders, she continued to advise GOP campaigns and won all of the four campaigns she worked on in the November general election.

Packwood said his wife's estrangement from the party means that she will be spending more time with him in Washington.

Contact Don Hamilton at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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