(CNN) – Pete Domenici, the longtime 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 to the Albuquerque Journal, 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, 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.
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