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Paul Sarbanes, Longtime U.S. Senator from Maryland who Championed Protection of Chesapeake Bay, Dies at 87

Paul S. Sarbanes, a low-key son of Greek immigrants who fiercely protected the Chesapeake Bay and other Maryland interests during 30 years in the U.S. Senate, died Sunday night, according to his son. He was 87.

The Democrat “passed away peacefully this evening in Baltimore,” said a statement by U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, who represents Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District.

Sarbanes’ office didn’t immediately reply to questions about details of the death such as the cause or where he was when he died.

A workhorse with a consistently liberal voting record, the elder Sarbanes in 2000 became the state’s first U.S. senator to win a fifth term. Democrat Millard E. Tydings had served four terms, ending in 1951.


Republicans called him a “stealth senator” — he could be low-profile — but Sarbanes actively worked at bay restoration and the protection of the estuary’s trails and waterways, helped protect consumers’ privacy in banking, and became a key figure in high-profile congressional investigations from Watergate to Iran-Contra to Whitewater.

His Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was designed to protect investors by establishing an independent oversight board to rein in accounting abuses. It also restricted the ability of accounting firms to provide consulting services to public companies they audit.

The Watergate scandal broke in the middle of his freshman year in the House. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, he drafted the first article of impeachment against Republican President Richard M. Nixon, accusing Nixon of obstructing justice. Nixon was accused of multiple abuses of power, including the use of government agencies to harass political enemies and to interfere with an FBI investigation of a break-in at the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.

Antony Blinken, Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, said he watched Sarbanes in action when Blinken was staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“A fierce intelligence married to deep principle — and the best questioner on the committee,” Blinken said Monday in a tweet.

Read entire article at Baltimore Sun