A federal grand jury is questioning lobbyists about job offers made to Sen. Bob Packwood’s ex-wife, and a lawyer for Packwood said Saturday that the senator is cooperating fully with federal investigators.
Packwood, R-Ore., has not yet been called to testify before the grand jury in Washington, a source close to the investigation said Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A lobbyist who offered a job to Georgie Packwood has agreed to testify in exchange for immunity in the case, The (Portland) Oregonian newspaper reported in Saturday’s editions.
The grand jury is investigating charges that Packwood illegally solicited jobs for his ex-wife to reduce his alimony payments, the newspaper said.
The Justice Department launched the probe 15 months ago. It subpoenaed Packwood’s diaries and other evidence after the Senate Ethics Committee discovered a diary entry about one of the lobbyists during its inquiry into alleged sexual misconduct by Packwood.
“This is not a new matter,” said Bob Muse, one of Packwood’s lawyers in Washington.
“We’re aware of the allegations and we have fully cooperated with the Department of Justice,” he said Saturday. He declined to comment further, noting that grand jury matters are supposed to be secret.
Packwood did not return telephone messages left Saturday at his home and office.
Packwood has said he didn’t solicit the job offers, which could have earned his former wife more than $57,000 a year. She did not accept any of them.
The Oregonian said the lobbyist granted immunity was Steven R. Saunders, who has acted as a lobbyist for Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Seiko Epson Corp. and the Japanese Embassy.
Saunders allegedly offered Mrs. Packwood a job buying American art for his Japanese clients. He refused comment to the newspaper and could not be reached by The AP on Saturday.
A 1989 entry in Packwood’s diary mentioned Saunders and Mitsubishi Electric. The Packwoods divorced in 1990.
Other lobbyists who allegedly offered Packwood’s ex-wife jobs were Ronald Crawford, a lobbyist who represents cable TV interests; Lester Pollack, a Wall Street investment tycoon; and Tim Lee, a former Packwood employee who at the time owned an Oregon trucking brokerage firm.
Pollack testified before the grand jury Friday but refused to comment as he left the courthouse. Lee testified earlier in the week.
The Senate Ethics Committee also is investigating the allegations against Packwood, along with charges from more than two dozen women that Packwood made unwanted sexual advances.
The committee’s investigation has been under way for more than two years.