Former New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici revealed today that he fathered a son in an extramarital affair with another senator’s daughter more than 30 years ago and has kept the secret since then, only telling his own family in the last “several months.”
In a statement to the Albuquerque Journal, the 80-year-old Republican, who represented New Mexico for more than 30 years, said the mother of his son “made me pledge that we would never reveal that parenthood and I have tried to honor that pledge and so has she.”
Domenici wrote that he was worried about the privacy of his son, a 34-year-old Nevada lawyer named Adam Laxalt, as well as the potential impact on Laxalt’s mother, Michelle Laxalt, 58. Domenici has eight other children with his wife Nancy.
“My past action has caused hurt and disappointment to my wife, children, family, and others. For that I am solely responsible,” Domenici, who still lives in Washington, D.C., said in the statement. “My family has been aware of these events for several months. I have apologized as best as I can to my wife, and we have worked together to strengthen our relationship. I deeply regret this and am very sorry for my behavior. I hope New Mexicans will view that my accomplishments for my beloved state outweigh my personal transgression.”
Michelle Laxalt, the daughter of former U.S. senator and Nevada Gov. Paul Laxalt, is a former government relations consultant and lobbyist. Paul Laxalt was a U.S. senator from Nevada from 1974 to 1987 and served as chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Domenici told the newspaper he made the confession because he believed someone else was about to make the story public.
“Rather than have others breach this privacy, I have decided to make this statement today. These circumstances now compel me to reveal this situation,” Domenici said.
Michelle Laxalt also put out a statement to the Albuquerque Journal, saying, “one night’s mistake led to pregnancy more than 30 years ago.
“I chose to go through with that pregnancy, although other choices were available,” Laxalt wrote. “I also chose to raise my child as a single parent. 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. My interaction with my child’s father consisted of telling him my decision, asking that he avail himself for health-related purposes, and asking that he agree that this remain private between the two of us.”
She said she raised her son Adam “surrounded by love and joy and opportunity.”
“I am proud of him, yet saddened that the circumstances of his birth might be used like a weapon to hurt many we love,” Laxalt said in the statement. “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. Why after more than 30 years, would anyone insinuate pain and ugliness where joy and beauty have presided?”
Adam Laxalt returned an e mail interview request from ABC News writing that he has “lived my entire life as a private citizen and intend to remain one.”
“I plan to address personal issues privately and will not be commenting or joining any public discussion,” Laxalt wrote.
According to his online biography at his Las Vegas law firm, Adam Laxalt served for five years as a Naval Officer and lawyer in the U.S. Navy. He was also deployed to Iraq, where he provided legal advice on detainee detention operations.
Domenici served in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 2009, and was the longest serving U.S. senator in New Mexico’s history. He retired in 2009 when he was diagnosed with a type of dementia. During his time in the U.S. Senate he served as the chairman of the Budget Committee and the Energy Committee.
The confession comes just days after it was revealed that Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) has a secret daughter, although the congressman has never been married. He was spotted trading tweets with a young woman during the State of the Union address and his “ilu” signoffs — digital shorthand for I love you — prompted inquiries into the identity of the congressman’s tweet mate. Just days later he confessed that the woman — 24 year old Victoria Brink — is his daughter whom he learned about three years ago.
ABC News’ John Parkinson contributed to this report.