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DOES ETHICS PANEL HAVE PROOF PACKWOOD ALTERED DIARIES?

SHARE DOES ETHICS PANEL HAVE PROOF PACKWOOD ALTERED DIARIES?

The Senate Ethics Committee has evidence that Sen. Bob Packwood altered diaries that he was forced to surrender under court order, contradicting the lawmaker's assertion that the material was not changed, sources familiar with the Packwood investigation say.

On Wednesday, Packwood for the first time publicly denied that diaries turned over to the committee were changed - as the committee has charged.In an interview with The Associated Press, Packwood, R-Ore., asserted, "No altered diaries were ever given to the committee. The committee never received any altered materials."

The sources, speaking only on condition they not be named, said Packwood voluntarily provided unaltered versions of portions of his diaries to the committee, which was looking into allegations of sexual and official misconduct on Packwood's part.

But later, Packwood was forced by a federal judge to provide all diaries sought by the committee, and those diaries had evidence of alteration, the sources said.

The committee in May found "substantial credible evidence" that the senator altered the diaries when he learned the committee might subpoena them to seek evidence of improper conduct.

The committee issued the same finding for allegations that Packwood made unwanted sexual advances toward 17 women in 18 instances between 1969 and 1990 and that he sought jobs for his wife, while the couple was divorcing, from lobbyists and businessmen with interests in legislation.

While much of the case has focused on sexual misconduct, sources said some committee mem-ers believe the diary charge is crucial because - if proven - it would show that Packwood tried to obstruct a Senate investigation.

Further, under the committee rules, a committee finding of obstruction almost certainly would be referred to Justice Department criminal investigators.

Packwood had brought the diary issue to court, challenging a committee subpoena for the material.