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Mr. Sarbanes's Legacy

Saturday, March 19, 2005; Page A24

While noting Sen. Paul Sarbanes's work that led to the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, the March 12 editorial "Exit Mr. Sarbanes" said, "He remained extraordinarily risk-averse and at times was indecisive on the headline issues of the day."

The Post failed to note how, especially in October 2002, Mr. Sarbanes forthrightly presented facts and argued against the congressional resolution ultimately used to give legal credence to the invasion of Iraq. This is not surprising, because The Post took no notice of Mr. Sarbanes' anti-war efforts that fall.

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In his almost 40 years of public service to Maryland citizens, Paul Sarbanes was low-key but effective, progressive but bipartisan. What the editorial didn't touch on was his role in protecting America's security and influence in the world.

As a high-ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Sarbanes has promoted a U.S. foreign policy that represents the best interests and best values of the United States.

When I was U.S. ambassador to Romania in 1999 and NATO was acting to end Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, it was feared that hundreds of thousands of Albanian refugees might seek refuge in Romania. Mr. Sarbanes, who had played basketball in Romania as a college student in the 1950s, introduced me to International Orthodox Christian Charities, based in Baltimore, which offered help. Today that organization works closely with the Romanian Orthodox Church on projects that improve the lives of Romanians -- and the security of the United States.

That's just one of many legacies of Paul Sarbanes's admirable service in public office in Maryland.


College Park

In its editorial tribute to the career of Sen. Paul Sarbanes, The Post took a partisan shot at the president and at House Financial Services Committee Chairman Michael G. Oxley (R-Ohio) on corporate accountability.

I find it odd that crafting and successfully passing the first version of the legislation in the House, which eventually became Sarbanes-Oxley, is now described by The Post as an expression of "initial hostility" from Republicans. Ironically, a Feb. 19, 2002, editorial praised Mr. Oxley's version, which I was proud to co-sponsor, as a "promising initiative."

To add further irony, The Post expressed its own hostility toward Sarbanes-Oxley in the Dec. 13, 2004, editorial "Reform Overshoots," when it seemed to question the costs and benefits of the internal controls section of the bill.

It is unfortunate that The Post has such a confused understanding of even its own historical views on this federal legislation. Even more disappointing, though, is that this confusion appears to have been no constraint to the editors' mischaracterization and criticism of the legislative contributions made by the president and the majority party in the House.


U.S. Representative (R-La.)


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