Ex-GOP Senator Admits To Fathering Son Outside Marriage, Kept It A Secret

Former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) on Tuesday acknowledged that he had a son outside his marriage more than 30 years ago, a fact he had previously kept a secret. 

Domenici, who represented New Mexico in the Senate for six terms, and the son’s mother, Michelle Laxalt, made the bombshell revelation in statements provided to the Albuquerque Journal. She is the daughter of Paul Laxalt, a former U.S. senator and governor of Nevada. The son, Adam Paul Laxalt, is an attorney in Nevada, according to the Journal. 

“I deeply regret this and am very sorry for my behavior,” Domenici, 80, said in the statement. “I hope New Mexicans will view that my accomplishments for my beloved state outweight my personal transgression.” He asked that respect be shown to the mother and son, saying that only he “should bear the brunt of this matter.”

Michelle Laxalt attributed the pregnancy to “one night’s mistake” and said she raised the son alone. She also defended the former senator, who she called “an honorable man,” and said that they made the information public now because she recently learned that it might be “twisted” and “shopped to press outlets large and small in a vicious attempt to smear” Domenici.

Domenici served in the Senate from 1973 until 2009. Paul Laxalt was governor of Nevada from 1967 until 1971 and represented the state in the Senate from 1974 until 1987.

Domenici’s statement:

More than 30 years ago, I fathered a child outside my marriage. The mother of that child made me pledge that we would never reveal that parenthood, and I have tried to honor that pledge and so has she. I have been concerned about the burden of privacy on the son Adam Laxalt.

I am also worried about the impact of these revelations on his mother, Michelle Laxalt. However, rather than have others breach this privacy, I have decided to make this statement today. These circumstances now compel me to reveal this situation.

My past action has caused hurt and disappointment to my wife, children, family, and others. For that I am solely responsible. My family has been aware of these events for several months. I have apologized as best as I can to my wife, and we have worked together to strengthen our relationship.

I deeply regret this and am very sorry for my behavior. I hope New Mexicans will view that my accomplishments for my beloved state outweigh my personal transgression. I only ask that everyone respect the privacy of my family and the son’s mother. None of them wanted this publicity, none of them deserve the hurt of this revelation, and only I should bear the brunt of this matter.

Michelle Laxalt’s statement:

I come from a political family and learned early in life the value of privacy. I vowed that I would make personal decisions based not on politics, but on my values. This self-pledge was tested when one night’s mistake led to pregnancy more than 30 years ago. I chose to go through with that pregnancy, although other choices were available. I also chose to raise my child as a single parent.Given the fact that both my father and the father of my child were United States senators, I felt strongly that I would make this choice according to my values, and would not seek advice, input or permission. My interaction with my child’s father consisted of telling him my decision, asking that he avail himself for health-related purposes, and asking that he agree that this remain private between the two of us.

I raised my son, Adam Paul, as a single parent. He lived surrounded by love and joy and opportunity. I am proud of him, yet saddened that the circumstances of his birth might be used like a weapon to hurt many we love. Recently information has come to me that this sacred situation might be twisted, re-written out of whole cloth, and shopped to press outlets large and small in a vicious attempt to smear, hurt and diminish Pete Domenici, an honorable man, his extraordinary wife, Nancy, and other innocents.

Why after more than 30 years, would anyone insinuate pain and ugliness where joy and beauty have presided?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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