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Paul Sarbanes (1933–2020), longtime U.S. senator from Maryland

by Linnea Crowther

Paul Sarbanes was a former Democratic U.S. senator from Maryland who served five terms and drafted the first article of impeachment against President Richard Nixon.

Political career

Sarbanes briefly served in the Maryland House of Delegates before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1970, representing Maryland’s fourth and later third districts. In the House, Sarbanes served on the Judiciary Committee, and when Nixon became embroiled in the Watergate scandal, it was Sarbanes who drafted and introduced the first articles of impeachment against the president, for obstruction of justice. After three terms in the House, Sarbanes was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976, where he served five terms before his retirement in 2006. In 2002, after scandals at Enron and elsewhere, he sponsored the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, reforming corporate governance and federal oversight of accounting. Sarbanes was known for his quiet career in government, serving without seeking headlines or attention.

Notable quote

“I’m not always out there blowing my own trumpet… You can get a lot done if you let others take some, maybe all, of the credit for it.” —from a 1994 interview with the Washington Post


Tributes to Paul Sarbanes

Full obituary: The Washington Post

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