Brockman "Brock" Adams (January 13, 1927 – September 10, 2004) was an American politician and member of Congress. Adams was a Democrat from Washington and served as a U.S. Representative, Senator, and United States Secretary of Transportation before retiring in January 1993.
Early life and education
Adams was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and attended the public schools in Portland, Oregon. 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. He graduated in 1949 and was admitted to Harvard Law School, where he earned his law degree in 1952.
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. Adams was also 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.
House of Representatives
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. 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. 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.
On November 4, 1986, Adams was elected as a U.S. senator, narrowly defeating incumbent Republican Slade Gorton (677,471 to 650,931 votes, 50.66% to 48.67%). Serving one term, he compiled a liberal record and was strongly supportive of his party's leadership. In 1992 he chose not to be a candidate for reelection after eight women made statements to The Seattle Times alleging that Adams had committed various acts of sexual misconduct, ranging from sexual harassment to rape. Adams was accused by Kari Tupper, the daughter of a longtime friend, of drugging and assaulting her. Adams denied the allegations, but his popularity statewide was weakened considerably by the scandal and he chose to retire rather than risk losing the seat for his party. Adams never lost an election, and lived in Stevensville, Maryland, until his death due to complications from Parkinson's disease.
Adams's willingness to plunge into controversial issues 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." Adams was also a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.