Pete Domenici, the former New Mexico senator and Budget Committee chairman, admitted on Wednesday that he fathered a son with Michelle Laxalt, the daughter of Paul Laxalt, the former senator and governor of Nevada. Domenici admitted to fathering a child with Laxalt decades ago, when she was 24 and he was 46.
Domenici, 80, is a former Republican senator from New Mexico who served six terms, from 1973 to 2009. In a statement to the Albuquerque Journal, he said he had a sexual relationship with Michelle Laxalt in the late 1970s or early 1980s and fathered a son, 34-year-old Adam Laxalt, a Nevada lawyer, reports ABC News. In the statement, Domenici said she “made me pledge that we would never reveal that parenthood and I have tried to honor that pledge and so has she.”
Michelle Laxalt, 58, is the daughter of Paul Laxalt, a Republican former governor, lieutenant governor and senator from Nevada. He was a leader in the conservative movement and a close friend of President Ronald Reagan. Domenici said Wednesday that he admitted the affair and secret child to his wife, Nancy Burk Domenici, and their eight children several months ago.
“I have apologized as best as I can to my wife," he said, "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 was a former lobbyist, and she previously worked as a government relations consultant, reports ABC News. Some sleuthing by New York Magazine indicates the encounter occurred in 1977, when Domenici was 46 and Laxalt was 24. Paul Laxalt, who is 90, has not issued a comment.
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The Wall Street Journal noted that Michelle Laxalt issued her own statement to the Albuquerque Journal and defended Domenici, saying, “Recently information has come to me that this sacred situation might be twisted 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.” According to Laxalt’s statement to the Journal, the encounter was “one night’s mistake,” reports the Washington Post.
Domenici and Laxalt’s son, Adam Paul Laxalt, is currently a Las Vegas attorney. He graduated from Georgetown University. Adam Laxalt also served as a lawyer for the Navy and was a naval officer for five years, according to his bio. Laxalt has also published articles in the National Review Online and Las Vegas Review-Journal. Laxalt has not announced any plans to address the matter with the public, the Washington Post reported. In a statement, he said, “I have lived my entire life as a private citizen and intend to remain one.”