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Brock Adams

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Brock Adams
United States Senator
from Washington
In office
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 1993
Preceded bySlade Gorton
Succeeded byPatty Murray
5th United States Secretary of Transportation
In office
January 23, 1977 – July 20, 1979
PresidentJimmy Carter
Preceded byWilliam Thaddeus Coleman Jr.
Succeeded byNeil Goldschmidt
Chair of the House Budget Committee
In office
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1977
Preceded byAl Ullman
Succeeded byRobert Giaimo
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1965 – January 22, 1977
Preceded byK. William Stinson
Succeeded byJack Cunningham
United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington
In office
PresidentJohn F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byCharles Moriarty
Succeeded byWilliam Goodwin
Personal details
Brockman Adams

(1927-01-13)January 13, 1927
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
DiedSeptember 10, 2004(2004-09-10) (aged 77)
Stevensville, Maryland, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseMary Adams
EducationUniversity of Washington, Seattle (BA)
Harvard University (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1944–1946

Brockman Adams (January 13, 1927 – September 10, 2004) was an American lawyer and politician. A Democrat from Washington, Adams served as a U.S. Representative, Senator, and United States Secretary of Transportation. He was forced to retire in January 1993 due to public and widespread sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape allegations.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Adams was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and attended public schools in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, graduating in 1944 from Broadway High School in Seattle.[2] He attended the University of Washington at Seattle where, in 1948, he was elected president of the student government (ASUW) and was the first student to both serve in that post and receive the President's Medal of Excellence as the university's top scholar.[3] In 1949, Mary Maxwell served as secretary to ASUW president Adams.[4] Later that year, Adams introduced Maxwell to his friend and her future husband, William Henry Gates II.[5] He graduated in 1949 and was admitted to Harvard Law School, where he earned his law degree in 1952.

Adams was also a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

Naval and legal career[edit]

Adams served in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946, and was admitted to the Washington state bar in 1952, opening a private practice in Seattle. He was a member of the American Bar Association.

Adams taught law at the American Institute of Banking from 1954 to 1960, and served as United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington from 1961 to 1964.[6]

Political career[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Adams was elected as a Democrat to the House and served six terms beginning January 3, 1965. He was chairman of the newly created Budget Committee during the 94th Congress, and was considered a strong candidate for Speaker of the House.

Secretary of Transportation[edit]

On January 22, 1977, Adams resigned to become the fifth Secretary of Transportation following his appointment by President Jimmy Carter and confirmation by the Senate.

Adams's willingness to plunge into controversial issues during his time as Transportation Secretary was evident in the contrasting assessments of his tenure and accomplishments during a tumultuous period in transportation. The Wall Street Journal in 1979 called him the "biggest disappointment" in the Carter cabinet, while Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook, who led the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under Adams, called him "absolutely one of the best transportation secretaries we've ever had".[7]

After resigning his Cabinet post on July 20, 1979, Adams resumed law practice, this time in Washington, D.C., where he was a lobbyist for CSX Corporation and other railroad carriers.[citation needed]

Adams at Cabinet Meeting

U.S. Senator[edit]

On November 4, 1986, Adams was elected to the U.S. Senate, narrowly defeating incumbent Republican Slade Gorton with 50.66% of the vote.[8] Serving one term, he compiled a liberal record and was strongly supportive of his party's leadership.

Sexual assault, rape allegations[edit]

Kari Tupper, the daughter of a longtime friend, accused Adams of drugging and assaulting her in 1987.[9][10]

In 1992 eight women made statements to The Seattle Times alleging that Adams had committed various acts of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, molestation and rape.[11] Multiple women said they were drugged after being served suspicious drinks and either assaulted or raped.[12]

In the exposé, an unnamed source said, "Adams had long been known by his staff and associates for aggressively kissing and handling women within his reach."

A former Democratic Party activist alleged that in the early 1970s, when Adams was serving in the House of Representatives, he invited her to a Seattle bar, where he drugged her with what he called "Vitamin C", after she recalled suffering from a cold. The woman said Adams followed her home, pushed her onto a couch and raped her.[13]

A young woman in her thirties told The Washingtonian that while she was seated to Adams's right at a formal luncheon shortly after she had taken a new job on Capitol Hill, he slid his hand under her skirt to the upper part of her thigh, whereupon she tried to move her leg away from him. Failing that, she said she tried to remove his hand, but Adams dug his fingers into her skin.[14]

Forced retirement[edit]

Adams denied the allegations in a press conference. But already under the spotlight due to previously aired allegations that he drugged and molested a young female aide in 1987, a highly publicized matter in which no charges were brought, Adams was forced to drop out of his reelection campaign.[15][16]


In retirement, Adams lived in Stevensville, Maryland. He died of complications from Parkinson's disease.[17]


In light of the 2017 #MeToo Movement, some see Adams's legacy as a powerful politician who systematically abused his power over young women as emblematic of the culture of harassment in the government.[18]

In 2020, an extensive PBS exposé concerning the workplace for women in the 1990s in Washington, D.C., described the climate of "sexual harassment and sexual entitlement [that] existed in some offices in the Senate", driven by some male senators whose behavior was well known on Capitol Hill. There was a list of congressmen that young women were told to keep away from, which included Adams, Bob Packwood, John Conyers, Gus Savage, Mel Reynolds, Strom Thurmond and Ted Kennedy.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Brock Adams Quits Senate Race Amid Sex Misconduct charges". The New York Times. March 2, 1992. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  2. ^ "Brock Adams papers - Archives West". archiveswest.orbiscascade.org. Orbis Cascade Alliance. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
  3. ^ "Brock Adams papers-Special Collections, UW Libraries". University of Washington Libraries. Archived from the original on June 11, 2011. Retrieved July 3, 2009.
  4. ^ "Melinda French Gates: A Microsoft Mystery -- She Married High- Profile Bill Gates, But Wants Her Life Kept Private | The Seattle Times". archive.seattletimes.com. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  5. ^ Wallace, James (1993). Hard drive : Bill Gates and the making of the Microsoft empire. Jim Erickson (1st HarperBusiness ed.). New York: HarperBusiness. p. 6. ISBN 0-88730-629-2. OCLC 27431749.
  6. ^ "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress". Retrieved July 3, 2009.
  7. ^ "Brock Adams, Former DOT Secretary, Dies". Traffic World. 38: 13. September 20, 2004.
  8. ^ "Elections & Voting". Retrieved July 3, 2009.
  9. ^ Rudin, Ken (1998). "Congressional Sex Scandals in History". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  10. ^ Ringle, Ken (March 22, 1992). "THE SEDUCTION OF BROCK ADAMS". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  11. ^ Gilmore, Susan; Nalder, Eric; Pryne, Eric; Boardman, David (March 1, 1992). "8 More Women Accuse Adams--Allegations of Two Decades of Sexual Harassment, Abuse - And a Rape". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 3, 2009.
  12. ^ "Sex Charges Bring End to Brock Adams' Career : Congress: Senator drops reelection bid after publication of allegations by 8 women of improprieties". Los Angeles Times. March 2, 1992. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  13. ^ "Sex Charges Bring End to Brock Adams' Career : Congress: Senator drops reelection bid after publication of allegations by 8 women of improprieties". Los Angeles Times. March 2, 1992. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  14. ^ "Sen. Brock Adams, D-Wash., already accused of sexually assaulting women". UPI. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  15. ^ "Sex Charges Bring End to Brock Adams' Career : Congress: Senator drops reelection bid after publication of allegations by 8 women of improprieties". Los Angeles Times. March 2, 1992. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  16. ^ Mark Matassa and David Schaefer (March 2, 1992). "Who'll Run for Adams' Seat? -- Scramble on After Senator Withdraws". Seattle Times.
  17. ^ Daly, Matthew (September 10, 2004). "Former U.S. Sen. Brock Adams dies at 77". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. Retrieved July 3, 2009.
  18. ^ "Patty Murray leads women's push for lasting change in handling sexual harassment on Capitol Hill". Seattle Times. December 7, 2017. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  19. ^ "What 74 former Biden staffers think about Tara Read's allegations". PBS Newshour. May 15, 2020. Retrieved May 15, 2020.

Further reading[edit]


External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the House Budget Committee
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by United States Secretary of Transportation
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Washington
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Washington
Served alongside: Daniel J. Evans, Slade Gorton
Succeeded by