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. Luke Brown

    These guys were the darlings of the Moral Majority, the Christian Coalition etc. What would Jerry Falwell think?

    February 20, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  2. Hudson

    Who gives a rip. We all make mistakes but that child and now productive man sounds a good thing. Same thing last week with the Democrat and his daughter. It all turned out well.

    February 20, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  3. Cooper

    "She wrote her pregnancy was the result of "one night's mistake...more than 30 years ago."

    Boy, I hope their son doesn't read that. Talk about feeling worthless...his own mother saying it was a mistake. Shame on her.

    February 20, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. Dr Matrix

    sounds like the left wing smear machine got ahold of the information some how and was going to smear them.
    Maybe if it was a lie we could agree on that, he screwed up, no smear. Why is everything you don't like a left wing media or lame stream media smear?

    February 20, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  5. dsumsum

    It really is a non-story. My only question: How did he vote in the Clinton impeachment hearing? If he voted to impeach, then he's just another political hypocrite.

    February 20, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  6. Kweso

    I would like to proudly introduce Adam Paul Domenici, formerly Adam Paul Laxalt. The error in his last name was made at birth. A man who sleeps with his friend's daughter is sleeping with his own daughter.

    February 20, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  7. Shannon

    Dr Matrix, how can it be a smear if it's true. He's the one that had a son he was ashamed to acknowledge. I'm sure that didn't stop him from telling the rest of us how to live our lives.

    February 20, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    ""She wrote her pregnancy was the result of "one night's mistake...more than 30 years ago."

    Boy, I hope their son doesn't read that. Talk about feeling worthless...his own mother saying it was a mistake. Shame on her."

    To be fair, she slept with a Republican adn probably created yet another Republican by doing so....she obviously isn't "all there" and has poor decision-making and life skills.

    February 20, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "Why is everything you don't like a left wing media or lame stream media smear?"

    Because then he can crawl back under his bridge and continue living in the GOP/Teatroll reality-denial echo chamber that so comforts him when reality gets "uppity" and decides to be something he doesn't want it to be.

    February 20, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "Same thing last week with the Democrat and his daughter. It all turned out well."

    Not quite. Steven Cohen is not married and is not married at the time and has never demanded that everyone else live according to his definition of "family values" (or whatever permutation of that phraseology was in vogue amongst the GOP ranks at the time Domenici was in office). That being said, yeah, the overarching point of "who gives a crap" is correct.

    February 20, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  11. proudmemberofglobalzero

    As long as he paid child support I am fine with this. It is also NONE OF OUR BUSINESS!!

    February 20, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  12. Jack

    Another one ? Is there *any* Republican who can keep it in his pants ?

    February 20, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  13. truth in journalism

    Just another sleeze bag politician.

    February 20, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  14. fandancy

    Once again,nice Christian values for someone who hid behind Christian values during his "public service".

    February 20, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  15. works4me

    Many of us have a "one night" memory in our closets. If a "mistake" is made because of it, so be it. They both stuck to their promise to each other... for a long time.

    February 20, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |

    Well I agree that if the "TRUTH" were to come out other than by honest admission the media would have had a heyday.

    I also can understand the Mother of Sen. Domenici's son, the daughter of Sen. Laxalt not wanting to damage the careers of either of these 'POWERFUL" man. Power I am sure was instrumental in keeping this hush hush for so long.

    What bothers me is that from the comments in the article, this admission is only being made due to fear of the story leaking out. Why not sooner?

    TRUTH comes into play when power is threatened.

    My last thought is simple, at least one Senator has some balls...and at least 30 years ago they apparently worked quite well!!!

    February 20, 2013 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  17. Xena

    He was a manipulator and bully in office and his legacy continues. His wife, I'm sure, appreciates his commitment to the holy sanctity of marriage.

    February 20, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  18. uBnice

    He was 46. She was 24. Now who really thinks that was the only affair the former Senator had? It was probably not his first time doing something like that. If he could hide a child for over 30 years, then imagine how he could hide any other transgressions.

    February 20, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  19. Alex

    It was a bad thing back then. Now you can have a child with your sister and its okay. Standards have been eroded but there was never really any standards for any politician of either party – they are all mostly LAWYERS. When they are not overbilling they are fighting with their partners about money.

    February 20, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  20. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    I visa even the gop bible thumpers make mistakes, holy crap ,who knew ??????

    February 20, 2013 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  21. sciencemd68

    This woman calls this senator an honorable man, is she nuts? Adultery is never honorable, lady you need to rethink your values. Someone mentioned the dem with his illegitimate child, but at least he was not married.

    February 20, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  22. nothing new here


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

    February 20, 2013 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  23. derek

    This is another holier tan holly GOP moron.They all should be ignored and disbanded.

    February 20, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  24. Mich Dem

    Having a child this way shows a woman doesn't respect themselves. If the Father isn't a man he's gone. Then its just herher

    February 20, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  25. ironman59

    What a suprise. Another republican who speaks out of one side of his mouth (control your bedroom) but has no desire to control his own. Just another example of the higher the moral ground you try to stand on, the further you sink. The republicans need to stay out of the personal lives of Americans because it is clear they can't even manage their own lives.

    February 20, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
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