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. milwtalk

    If he filled out any legal forms indicating the number of children he had, it would be fraud.

    February 21, 2013 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  2. sjpa1950

    The news article says "Pete 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." Maybe the Moral Majority / Christian Coalition supporter, Pete Domenici had frontotemporal lobar degeneration when he was having sex with his friend's, (Sen. Paul Laxalt's) daughter, Michelle Laxalt. Domenici did not even want the child to have his last name (Domenici). Sound like another conservative / republican moral decision by a very moral person.....LOL.

    February 21, 2013 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  3. david

    if we only had the energy that the GOP uses to spin...then we would have an answer to any energy shortage.

    February 21, 2013 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  4. W.

    I'm not a convert to the canonization of Pete here in NM. He has demonstrated standard political GOP slight-of-hand tactics, such as maneuvering his influences (along with Heather Wilson) to derail a U.S. attorney and then retire due to a "terminal brain disease" that has lasted for years. Pete is too slick for me to find as endearing as many in my state.

    February 21, 2013 04:43 am at 4:43 am |
  5. nvmature

    Pete Domenici was part of that high-moral family values Republicans oh so vocal and righteous during the Clinton years. To me, it's not the fact that he had an out-of-wedlock child, it's his public hypocrisy about morality and values.

    February 21, 2013 04:44 am at 4:44 am |
  6. Jo

    Was he a "family values" politician?

    February 21, 2013 05:10 am at 5:10 am |
  7. RomneyWho

    He was 50 years old married man (old enough to have been her father) and she was 24 years of age. She was a young and impressionable adult child, taken advantage of by a trusted friend of her father who turned out to be a snake in the grass back stabbing scrum bag and a cheat. Period. :(

    February 21, 2013 05:45 am at 5:45 am |
  8. Lou Vignates

    If you want to know the truth about human nature, read the ten commandments. What they say is that the things forbidden are very strong parts of human nature.

    February 21, 2013 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  9. Marie MD

    I worked with his son, not this one, years ago. Wonderful human being that gave up a very good career to help those who really needed help.

    February 21, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  10. John

    Just one more "conservative" that couldn't keep it in his pants.

    February 21, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  11. slk

    No one should read his mothers' comment about being a "mistake".
    So the gop over the firing of 8 US attorneys which was a big????? was himself not honest.....go figure.

    February 21, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  12. Mags

    @dr. Matrix, if you righties weren't so busy judging everyone else and holding up your nonexistent morality as a standard bearer, this would probably be a non story. But, once more, we see that you guys can't comply with your own ideology.

    February 21, 2013 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  13. Mags

    @dsumsum. He did vote to impeach Clinton. Shocking news, I know.

    February 21, 2013 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  14. Blue Dog

    We all make mistakes, but GOP thinks it has the right to lecture everybody else on family and moral values and it's the only party which represents those values.

    February 21, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  15. Name lynn

    Pete had affairs on his wife have a child an hes a gop leaders, an kept that child behid close doors. supporting him with whose money, an the people is running jessie jackson jr down about money what about pete oh boy.

    February 21, 2013 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  16. rasko41

    Nobody cares.

    February 21, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  17. DB Cooper

    Domenici: Just another GOP hypocrite, liar (he lied to his family for 30 years!) and unfaithful husband. People like him threaten the institution of marriage, not same sex couples!

    February 21, 2013 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  18. joseph

    Notice how CNN notes Domenici's party affiliation in the first sentence. When a democrat is the subject of a scandal they don't even mention party at all, as in the San Diego mayor story, where this Democrat mayor stole millions from her deceased husband's charitable foundation to gamble.

    February 21, 2013 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  19. Wake up People!

    While I agree with Woman in California that Congress does need to get off their duffs and work with the POTUS, I have to say, Republicans have to be the biggest hypocrites on the face of the earth. They put President Clinton through the wringer for a bj. They voted to impeach him, all the while this perv that pretended to be so perfect, hid his dirty little secret and was able to stay in office and keep his dignity. Nothing but a bunch of self-serving liars.

    February 21, 2013 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  20. Mark

    I'd like to see his voting record on 'moral' issues since his
    tryst.

    February 21, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  21. Core republican Values

    I greatly admire those "family values" republicans.

    February 21, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  22. Gabbo

    Barely a mention of the Jesse Jackson corruption charges on this site, but they sure trumpet this Republican's love child !

    February 21, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  23. UDidntBuildThat

    John-Just one more "conservative" that couldn't keep it in his pants.
    _____________________________
    so typical. When Dems do it, it is their personal life who cares right (Clinton). But when a Repub does it is treated as do it is b/c they are republicans that this happens.
    With all that is going this is the lead story CNN? How about the fact that Obama created the Sequestration debacle, said he would not sign any bill to change the Sequestration rules. But Obama is now campaigning that it is the Republicans fault using 1st responders as props, and call HIS OWN IDEA THAT HE SIGNED INTO LAW!, "stupid, makes no sense, not smart and would hurt the economy"!! Why isn't that front page news? This is flat out blantant deception of the American people by the POTUS and the media is once again silent and covers for him! Just think if GWB did this, what would the media do. Obama can do stuff like this because the media participate in Obama's propaganda.
    But no, lets talk about a retired Republican that father a child out of wedlock 30 yrs ago. That makes more sense. Even though he did not commit fraud, or take kickbacks (like Rep. Jackson Jr. & Mayor Nagin both Democrats), this republican story is more important right CNN.

    February 21, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    Mags

    @dr. Matrix, if you righties weren't so busy judging everyone else and holding up your nonexistent morality as a standard bearer, this would probably be a non story. But, once more, we see that you guys can't comply with your own ideology.
    ------------–

    At first I gave this article a "it's none of my business" thumbs down. Your statement brings the truth to his affair. If the man voted to impeach Clinton, then yes, it is America's business to know and understand the hypocrisy. Eventually even Newt Gingrich will be able to mentally grasp just how much damage his own party brought on itself (himself included) in their zeal to control others morality as they sought (and apparently enjoyed) the same ... attention ... Bill Clinton sought.

    February 21, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  25. Wake up People!

    @Gabbo. Read. There have been articles every day about Jesse Jackson, Jr. There is one open right now.

    February 21, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7