February 20th, 2013
01:21 PM ET
2 years ago

Ex-Sen. Domenici admits to fathering son outside of marriage 30 years ago

(CNN) - Pete Domenici, the longtime GOP senator who represented New Mexico for more than thirty years, admitted Wednesday that an extramarital affair three decades ago produced a son, who was kept secret from the public since then.

In statements, the former senator and his son's mother explained the circumstances surrounding the affair and why they were going public with the information on Wednesday.

"More than 30 years ago, I fathered a child outside my marriage," Domenici wrote. "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."

The son was identified by Domenici as Adam Laxalt, who is a lawyer in Nevada. His mother, Michelle Laxalt, is the daughter of Paul Laxalt, the former U.S. senator and governor of Nevada. She wrote her pregnancy was the result of "one night's mistake...more than 30 years ago."

She said in her statement that the decision to remain quiet about her son with Domenici stemmed from a desire for privacy.

"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," she wrote.

She said the decision to come forward Wednesday was made after it became clear the "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."

Domenici and Laxalt's statements were first reported by the Albuquerque Journal.

Domenici, aged 80, worked in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 2009, and was the longest serving U.S. senator in New Mexico's history. He decided not to seek re-election in 2009 after being diagnosed with frontotemporal lobar degeneration, a type of dementia. The disease attacks the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which control judgment, complex decision-making, communication, mood and behavior.

During his time in the Senate, Domenici never faced a competitive challenge to his seat, though in the final months of his tenure he came under scrutiny for his role in a controversy over the firings of eight U.S. attorneys.

In his years in the Senate, Domenici served as the chairman of Budget Committee, as well as the Energy Committee, where he was the panel's ranking Republican.

According to an online biography, Adam Laxalt served in the U.S. Navy before becoming a lawyer in Las Vegas. He was also deployed in Iraq to provide legal advice on detainee detention operations.

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: New Mexico • Pete Domenici
soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. much thunder.little rain

    is there any wonder why we hate all politians from both parties

    February 20, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. Martha in CF

    What is this, confessions week?

    February 20, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. just sayin

    sounds like the left wing smear machine got ahold of the information some how and was going to smear them.

    February 20, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  4. DN

    Better late than never....

    February 20, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Wake up People!

    Republicans are definitely masters at covering things up. I bet the top ones knew all along, just like they did with their golden boy Arnold.

    Yet they are supposed to be conservatives.....does conservative mean, can't keep it in your pants?

    February 20, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    "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," she wrote.
    ---------------------–
    There's a lot to be said about Republican "values."

    February 20, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "sounds like the left wing smear machine got ahold of the information some how and was going to smear them."

    After what the right wing Faux News-Limbaugh-Beck triumverate of mendacity tried to do with Steve Cohen (D-TN)tweeting his daughter during the SOTU, you look like a freekin idiot trying to make a claim about this situation that it's some Dem conspiracy to smear Domenici. More than likely, this guy found his stones after Cohen came out with a similar announcement (altho Cohen wasn't and isn't married, so the whole adultery issue isn't present) and decided to come clean. I commend him for it and don't find it to be a big deal whatsoever. People are people and have human failings. If he professed "family values" etc., then he's a hypocrite, but a neutered one, because he's not holding office, so I don't really care.

    February 20, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    "What is this, confessions week?"

    Yeah. Just another CNN Keeping Them Honest segment of who did what to whom. Well, that and a good way to feed the Everyone Does It Mark Sanford Apology Tour by showcasing others who have ... oh, how shall I put this ... ah, yes ... by showcasing others who have strayed from the wholesome hills of Appalachia togetherness by seeking love in all the wrong places.

    February 20, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    just sayin wrote:

    sounds like the left wing smear machine got ahold of the information some how and was going to smear them.
    ------------
    Ah, so if the "left wing smear machine" didn't get a hold of the information, that somehow it was perfectly fine to keep quiet. In other words, you condone the hypocrisy of "conservative moral values." Never admit you did anything wrong, at least not until the time is getting close to meet your maker. Is that it?

    February 20, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. rs

    I think Much Thunder has this one right. It seems to be a uniquely American trait that we imbue our political with more than human morality when in fact they are just like us- and perhaps worse because of the power and the authority. When we discover otherwise we go on the war path. I too am guilty of tweaking Republicans so caught- not because they are necessarily worse than us, or Democratic politicians (or better)- but just because they tout their "family values" and "christianity" so much.
    I hope Mr. D. finds some relief in his confession.

    February 20, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. Al-NY,NY

    the Family Values party never ceases to amaze

    February 20, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  12. ThinkAgain

    @just sayin: "sounds like the left wing smear machine got ahold of the information some how and was going to smear them."

    Oh, bull! How do you know it didn't come from Karl Rove or Grover Norquist, threatening to "primary" someone if she didn't come clean?

    February 20, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  13. The Real Tom Paine

    -just sayin

    sounds like the left wing smear machine got ahold of the information some how and was going to smear them.
    ******************
    What possible advantage would be gained by this? He's out of office, so, unless he plans to return to public life, this is a sideshow. Typical delta-minus conclusion from the Right.

    February 20, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  14. Sly

    These are the Family Values of the Republicans. No wonder they have 11% support, and falling.

    There are no Republicans that, like Newt, wouldn't bang their best friends wife while their own wife is in the hospital dying of cancer.

    That is just how Republcians roll ... no surprises here.

    February 20, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. Kathy0715

    "The disease attacks the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which control judgment, complex decision-making, communication, mood and behavior." -- Someone needs to have John Boehner checked for this diagnosis, it would explain a lot.

    February 20, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  16. Jean Sartre

    I think we should brand him on his forehead with a huge "A."

    February 20, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  17. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Meanwhile, leading republicans John Boehner and Eric Cantor kept secret, David Petreaus' affairs while he had an affair with two women, allowing them access to classified information, thereby compromising our national security. Only in America.

    February 20, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  18. aergern

    @just sayin Sounds like he lied and then spent 30 years beating on anyone who wasn't a "family values" GOP'er. The left doesn't HAVE to do anything ... the GOP just sends signals under the stall or makes pledges not to reveal the parentage. Pretty simple.

    February 20, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  19. Deme Joseph

    Yeap the knew. They all know what went and whats going on. They all think the american people can be fooled – as some of us are. They the GOP are alway yelling about how saintly they are BULL. All they do is tell lies and their followers are the idiots. Practice what you preach is not in their vocabulary.

    February 20, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  20. barbraS

    Didn't this hypocrite vote to impeach Clinton? POS!

    February 20, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  21. Kweso

    So her child was a one night mistake? No wonder he has his grandfather's last name. 'Suppose he could change it to Domenici now that the cat is out of the bag. Family values my foot.

    February 20, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  22. LP

    A Member of Congress fooling around on the side. I'm shocked AND stunned!!!

    February 20, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  23. 2buttercups

    I wish this young man every blessing and every happiness. This is a sad situation and I can only imagine the humiliation his wife and his other children must feel. I hope the young man had positive male figures in his life and that he can establish a relationship with his father and other siblings. I also hope that there will be healing and forgiveness.

    February 20, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  24. Ord_Miler

    Con-servatives.
    Hypocrites.
    what else is new?

    February 20, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  25. Tony in Maine

    BFD – and I'm to the left of liberal.

    February 20, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
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