Ex-Senator Admits To Fathering Child With GOP Colleague's Daughter

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 20 2013 12:21 PM

Ex-Senator Admits To Fathering Love Child With Daughter of GOP Colleague

Former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici
Former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Just in case we needed any more proof that Congress is indeed a strange place, former New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici offered it to his home state newspaper yesterday, telling the Albuquerque Journal that he fathered a son outside of his marriage with the then-24-year-old daughter of a fellow senator more than three decades ago. "I deeply regret this and am very sorry for my behavior," Domenici said in a statement to the paper. "I hope New Mexicans will view that my accomplishments for my beloved state outweigh my personal transgression."

The mother of Domenici's no-longer-secret son is Michelle Laxalt, who confirmed the story to the paper. Laxalt is the daughter of Paul Laxalt, a former Republican governor of Nevada who also served roughly a dozen years in the U.S. Senate at the same time that Domenici did. "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,” said Michelle Laxalt, explaining her decision to raise her son as a single mother in a bid to keep the matter secret.

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Domenici, now 80, retired from the Senate in 2008 after 36 years in office. Paul Laxalt retired from the Senate in 1986 after 12 years as Domenici's colleague.

Here's the Washington Post with some background on the son, who has his own ties to Congress' upper chamber:

Adam Laxalt is a lawyer working in Las Vegas, who served five years in the Navy. He provided legal counsel on detainee operations in Iraq. He also served as a law clerk for the U.S. Air Force General Counsel; an aide to John Bolton in the State Department; and a staffer for former Sen. John Warner (R-Va.).

And here's a snippet from Michelle Laxalt's bio on Politico's Arena:

Michelle D. Laxalt is recognized as one of the most prominent and effective government relations practitioners in the nation's capital. In fact, "Washingtonian" magazine named her one of the top 50 lobbyists in a town where lobbying has become a major industry. She was the first Republican woman to form her own consulting firm in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Laxalt formed The Laxalt Corporation in 1984 and has represented prominent clients whose business interests include international trade, labor law, intellectual property law, oil and gas, federal taxes, tort reform, regulation of tobacco and other important issues that come before the legislative and executive branches of government.

It's worth noting that Laxalt's professional interests likely overlapped with those of the father of her child: During his time in the Senate, Domenici served as chairman of both the Energy and Natural Resources and Budget committees.

The news comes less than a week after Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, announced that he had his own secret daughter.

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This post was updated with additional information about Domenici's committee assignments, and Michelle Laxalt's age.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.