February 20th, 2013
01:21 PM ET
5 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. Laurie in Spokane

    This is such a non-story. 30 years ago-come on !. Find some real relevant news to report

    February 20, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. menoc

    Well, now we know how Michelle Laxalt zoomed past the younger more talented lobbyists in Washinton.

    Again, "It's not what you know, it's who you know". -and she knew him very, very well.

    February 20, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  3. ja

    burn in hell, the gatekeepers, should work at the sewer plant, the unehtical set policy, you take Mark Sanford, has the nerve to run again, I wonder if he will keep hi pants on

    February 20, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  4. Thomas

    I think it is bad that she considers it a one night's mistake. How does that make her son feel? Poor guy!

    February 20, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  5. GrogInOhio

    just sayin:
    sounds like the left wing smear machine got ahold of the information some how and was going to smear them.
    Wow... anonymity allows some people to be really dim. The "left wing smear machine" isn't the loud proponent of "family values" that regular gets its hypocrisy exposed to daylight.

    February 20, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  6. Larry L

    One has to wonder how many Puritanical judgements he passed on opponents through the years...

    February 20, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  7. REGinAZ

    It is unlikely that human faults and indiscretions can ever be completely done away with but possibly significant improvement could be achieved in politics by just getting career politicians out of the game. Why? Because there is an obvious increase in their power, influence and feeling of invincibility the longer they are in office and the old saying, “power corrupts and total power totally corrupts” proves true time and time again.

    February 20, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. just sayin

    at least republicans try to live up to values, as opposed to democrats that attack them and advocate no values whatsoever. democrats, the morally bankrupt party tha booes god.

    February 20, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  9. Doc1

    I bet he slept with her a lot more than once. That one night thing testimony just doesn't hold up.

    February 20, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  10. Eat yur Puddin

    Leave the old guy alone for crying our loud. How low will the looney left stoop to destroy peoples' lives?

    February 20, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  11. Smacky Smooth

    Well, it is nice to know we werent the only ones getting....ya know..

    February 20, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  12. jnpa

    Another GOP senator with "good Christian family values" aka hypocrisy!

    February 20, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  13. Malory Archer

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


    Weren't you just lambasting the Dem who was tweeting his out of wedlock daughter last week, calling him "scum" amongst other wise nuggets despite the young woman's mother never told him about her until very recently? Oh yeah, and neither of those two were married to other people. Hypocracy, thy name is just sayin.

    February 20, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. Ken in MD

    One more member of the "family values" party.

    February 20, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  15. Earthling

    I love the Republican apologists on here trying to make this into something that Democrats did wrong. GOP hypocrisy at its finest.

    February 20, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  16. WHY NOT

    I hope that Adam is okay and will stay focused on what is important.

    February 20, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  17. New Mexican

    I'm with Tony. PVD's career was all about policy, bipartisan solutions and bringing home the bacon to his home state. One stupid, HUMAN mistake on an otherwise impressive career. Easy target for the small-minded.

    February 20, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. George Washington

    Another long term hypocrite. Do as I say, not as I do.....
    It's just amazing that people will blindly follow others as long as they are singing the song they want to hear, no matter what they are doing.
    I wonder when words became loader than actions..... not just the indiscretion, but the cover up and lies for 30 years.
    If he would lie about that what else was he lying about?
    Newt, we found you a kindred spirit.....

    February 20, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  19. Zenger Folkman

    Geez, this was 30 years ago. I don't think the GOPers had branded themselves as the "Family Values" party yet. So maybe we have to give this one a pass. Or maybe not.

    February 20, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  20. AgrippaMT

    Another corrupt, dishonest Republican Senator, of course. All Republicans are like this.

    February 20, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  21. cedar rapids

    'and shopped to press outlets large and small in a vicious attempt to smear, hurt and diminish Pete Domenici, an honorable man'

    yeah because its not as if he had an affair, had a kid, kept it quiet for 30 years or anything, I mean whats to 'smear' and 'honorable man' with there?

    February 20, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  22. Roy

    The mother found a rich sugar daddy from congress wonder how their son feels about this.

    February 20, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    This is not news. It is a personal family matter. But unlike some out of wedlock births the people involved were public figures, have money and one was married.

    February 20, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  24. Be Sane

    Another high and mighty, so moral GOPer found out.

    February 20, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  25. don in albuquerque

    I bet by the end of the week, Obama will have set up the whole thing including arranging the times and places where Pete and Honey could get together. After all EVERYBODY knows he is under investigation the the Lindberg baby kidnapping.

    February 20, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
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