Senator Sarbanes to look back on 30 years in Congress

The GBC’s Public Policy Dialogue on October 11 at The Center Club in Baltimore features U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes, who will reflect on more than 30 years of public service and roles he played in some of the most significant events in modern history.

While in the U.S. House of Representatives, Sarbanes was selected in 1974 by his Democratic colleagues on the House Watergate Committee to introduce the first Article of Impeachment for obstruction of justice against President Richard M. Nixon.

Sarbanes spent three decades in the U.S. Senate where he earned a reputation for working behind the scenes rather than in the limelight.

Sarbanes served four years as a delegate in the Maryland General Assembly under Governors Agnew and Mandel prior to being elected to Congress in 1970 from the 4th District of Maryland. He was reelected in 1972 and 1974 from the 3rd District. In 1976, Sarbanes was elected to the U.S. Senate, eventually becoming the 10th most senior member – and the longest serving Senator in Maryland history.

He has been a continuous member of Congress, under the presidencies of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. In his last election in 2000, Sarbanes received more than 63 percent of the vote. His retirement from the Senate marks the passing of a generation.

“He ranks among the best and the brightest … without question, Paul Sarbanes is an intellectual giant in the Senate,” said Steny Hoyer, House Minority Whip (D-MD).

Sarbanes serves as the ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, senior member on the Foreign Relations Committee, senior member of the Budget Committee and senior member of the Joint Economic Committee. In June, 2001, he served as chairman of the Banking Committee for 18 months, during the corporate scandals of Enron and WorldCom.

“We set out to build a framework to restore honest and transparent corporate practices and to encourage ethical business leadership in response to the corporate failures of accountants, public companies and stock analysts that reached their height in the late 1990s through 2002,” said Sarbanes. “I believe that we have succeeded in raising standards, with increasing international support, to give investors a new degree of confidence in our capital markets – once again helping to make them the envy of the world.”

He has been dubbed a New Deal Democrat, for which he makes no apologies. The groundbreaking Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 will remind future generations of his efforts to safeguard the American economy after the collapse of Enron and WorldCom, restoring investor confidence in financial markets.

The studious politician was a native of Salisbury, but made his home in Baltimore. Sarbanes, the son of Greek immigrants, won academic honors at Princeton, Oxford and Harvard Law School. Besides his family, his great loves are economics and foreign affairs.

Sarbanes’ accomplishments related to foreign affairs and trade include:

  • Authoring the Export Enhancement Law, making it easier for local exporters to do business and sell their products overseas;
  • Establishing the first “one-stop shop” in the nation in Baltimore to help businesses cut through the confusing array of programs, requirements and financing to expand exports;
  • Sponsoring Agricultural Export Seminars to promote the state’s agribusiness sector, Maryland’s largest industry, as well as other sectors of our economy—biotechnology, high technology and information technology; and
  • Working to win approval of Maryland’s selection by the Export-Import Bank as one of only five states in the nation to participate in a pilot working capital co-guarantee program, authorizing the State to co-guarantee 90 percent of commercial loans to Maryland exporters without the Ex-Im Bank’s consent.

Sarbanes has had his hand in strengthening the Maryland economy through new investments; education and workforce training; transportation infrastructure improvement; tourism enhancement; technology and life sciences information transfer; and many other efforts.

At the October 11 GBC event, Sarbanes will share details of his political career, accomplishments and frustrations in public life.

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