Paul Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat who served in the US Congress for more than three decades, helped clean up the Chesapeake Bay and corporate scandals and pressured Richard Nixon to resign as president, died on Sunday at 87.
The soft-spoken champion of liberal causes who shunned publicity and was known for speaking bluntly, passed away peacefully in Baltimore, his son and congressman John Sarbanes said in a statement.
“Friend, mentor and role model for so many of us in the Greek American community. We will miss you Senator Paul Sarbanes,” California's Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis said on Twitter.
Sarbanes was born to Greek immigrants in Maryland on Feb. 3, 1933 and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1960.
He served four years as a state lawmaker after having worked as a lawyer in Baltimore, before getting elected to the US House of Representatives in 1970 where he worked until 1976, when he was elected to the Senate.
After the crash of Enron and other companies in corporate scandals in 2001 and 2002, Sarbanes, as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, advocated sweeping regulatory changes.
He helped get through Congress the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 that imposed stricter oversight of auditors and tougher penalties for executives who violate the law.
He served in the Senate for three decades before announcing in March 2005 at age 72 that he would not run for re-election to the Senate the following year.
“It was not my ambition to stay there until they carried me out,” Sarbanes said while announcing his retirement. [Reuters]