When Neena Laxalt saw the NPR article forwarded this morning by a cousin, she was stunned.
And so, she says, was the rest of the family to learn that her nephew, Adam Laxalt, was the son of Pete Domenici, the ex-New Mexico senator.
“My mom went to her grave (in 2004) not knowing,” Laxalt, a lobbyist in Carson City, told me in the Legislative Building. “I was shocked.”
Neena Laxalt and Michelle Laxalt are not close – the latter left Nevada when Paul Laxalt defeated Harry Reid for the U.S. Senate in 1974 and worked in and outside of government on Capitol Hill. But Neena Laxalt told me she remembers 34 years ago when Michelle told the family.
“She said, ‘I’m pregnant and I’m not going to tell you who the father is,” Neena Laxalt recalled.
Like any siblings, Neena and her three other sisters nevertheless inquired, she said, but Michelle told them nothing. While they may have had some guesses, “(Domenici) was not on the list.”
Neena Laxalt said that in the 1970s, “It was a big deal to have a child out of wedlock. But, as the years went by, no one (in the family) cared. It was something we kind of left alone.“
In describing her sister, Neena Laxalt told me, as many others came to know, “Michelle’s a pretty tough cookie.” So no one would have pressed her, that is.
Laxalt said she believes her father, who turned 90 last year, did not know and that she feels for him now.
“It was such a private issue,” she said. “He left it alone. Unless she volunteered it, and I doubt she did.”