PORTLAND -- He was a politician so revered and trusted, one of his nicknames was Saint Mark. FBI documents obtained by KGW's news partner The Oregonianshow Senator Mark Hatfield was in hot water after his wife took $55,000 from a Greek arms dealer who was secretly indicted by the U.S. Government.
A somewhat shadowy figure, this Greek arms dealer Basil Tsakos was promoting this oil pipeline across Africa and at the same time he was giving money to Hatfield's wife, said Jeff Mapes, who broke the story.
However, the government could never apprehend the international arms dealer, who owned real estate all over the world. If he were caught, the newly released FBI documents reveal Tsakos was prepared to stay out of jail by testifying he paid Hatfield's wife the money--not for help in finding a home in Washington, but to bribe support for the pipeline.
Former KGW political reporter Floyd McKay asked Hatfield about the controversy back in 1985.
To the average person $55,000 is a lot of money, Senator, for a sale that was never consummated, said McKay.
Of course it is, but wait a minute Floyd, Hatfield said. The point is: It's customary--or I should say not without precedent--that someone who has done the work, well it can be remuneration for services and hours rendered.
Soon after that interview the Hatfields donated the $55,000 to OHSU.
If there was a weakness in his political life, it was that several times he depended on benefactors and friends for financial help, said Mapes.
KGWpolitical consultant Len Bergstein believes there was another reason the Dept. of Justice didn't file charges against the Senator.
Hatfield was no one to mess with at that time and if they didn't have a full case, they were not going to bring it forward because they thought they would lose, said Bergstein.
Some feel this story is unfair because Hatfield is no longer alive to defend himself.
They are difficult stories to do because you don't set out to hurt the family or hurt their reputation, but someone that important does become part of history, said Mapes.
It won't be the thing that defines Mark Hatfield, said Bergstein.
However, it is a blemish on the career of one of Oregon's most successful politicians of all time.