ALBUQUERQUE -- Former New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici disclosed that he fathered a child in the 1970s with the 24-year-old daughter of one of his U.S. Senate colleagues -- a startling revelation for a politician with a reputation as an upstanding family man.
Domenici and Michelle Laxalt sent statements to the Albuquerque Journal that revealed the relationship and identified their son as Nevada attorney Adam Paul Laxalt. They said they decided to go public with their decades-old secret because they believed someone was about to release the information to smear Domenici.
"I deeply regret this and am very sorry for my behavior," Domenici, 80, said in his statement. "I hope New Mexicans will view that my accomplishments for my beloved state outweigh my personal transgression."
Domenici retired in 2010 after six terms. He and his wife have been married more than 50 years and have eight children. He said he disclosed the situation to his family several months ago.
Michelle Laxalt's father is former Sen. Paul Laxalt of Nevada. Her statement said that she chose to raise her son as a single parent and agreed with Domenici to keep the matter private.
"One night's mistake led to pregnancy more than 30 years ago," she said.
After the affair, Michelle Laxalt became a prominent lobbyist, Republican activist and television commentator. That last role occasionally put her in an odd position of publicly discussing the man who was the father of her child.