By Rob Nikolewski | New Mexico Watchdog
Political figures from Capitol Hill to New Mexico are buzzing about the revelation from former Sen. Pete Domenici that he fathered a child out of wedlock 30 years ago with the daughter of another longtime Republican senator, Paul Laxalt.
“It’s shocking,” New Mexico state Rep. Larry Larañaga, R-Albuquerque, told New Mexico Watchdog Wednesday morning. “I guess we all have temptations.”
“It’s surprising,” said state Rep Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, who worked on Domenici’s staff after graduating from college. “I don’t think it undermines all the great things he did for our state and nation, but it’s a shock to everybody.”
“Rather than have others breach this privacy, I have decided to make this statement,” Domenici said. “These circumstances now compel me to reveal this situation.”
In her own statement, Michelle Laxalt said her relationship with Domenici was “one night’s mistake (that) led to a pregnancy more than 30 years ago.”
“I raised my son, Adam Paul, as a single parent,” Michelle Laxalt said in her statement, adding, “I am proud of him, yet saddened that the circumstances of his birth might be used like a weapon to hurt many we love. Recently information has come to me that this 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’s statement suggested that his wife did not know about the affair until recently:
“My family has been aware of these events for several months. I have apologized as best I can to my wife, and we have worked together to strengthen our relationship.”
Domenici and his wife have raised eight children.
Domenici, 80, would have been about 50 years old at the time of the pregnancy.
Michelle Laxalt is the fourth of Sen. Laxalt’s six children. Associated Press reports she was 24 at the time.
Sen. Laxalt, 90, served in the Senate from 1974 to 1987. He lives in Northern Virginia and Lake Tahoe, Nev.
In his statement, Domenici said, “I am solely responsible,” and that Michelle Laxalt “made me pledge that we would never reveal that parenthood, and I have tried to honor that pledge and so has she.”
“Pete Domenici was the go-to guy in New Mexico, and he still is in many ways,” Larañaga said. “There’s room for forgiveness for everyone, and the way it was handled was admirable on both parts.”
Larañaga said he worked closely with Domenici in the 1980s when Larañaga worked as secretary of the state’s highways. Larañaga said Domenici was in the Roundhouse last week visiting with legislators regarding the $418 million rail project in Santa Teresa.
“I haven’t had a chance to speak to the senator about it, ” Gentry said, “but my guess is that to some extent, it’s a relief.”
A slew of media outlets that cover Capitol Hill have picked up on the story, given the high profile that Sens. Domenici and Laxalt kept as two of the most influential Republicans in D.C. during their tenures.
And the news comes less than a week after Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., announced that he had his own secret daughter.
Contact Rob Nikolewski at [email protected].