WASHINGTON, DC—After months of fevered speculation and allegations in the media regarding his private life, U.S. Rep. Gordon Graham (D-IL) finally admitted Monday to having a sexual relationship with Arlington, VA, interior designer Joyce Debolt.
"I frankly don't understand this line of questioning, considering that the two of us have been seeing each other for almost a year now," said Graham, the media-dubbed "Lascivious Lawmaker," at a press conference. "But if you must know, yes, we are dating."
Pressed as to whether his use of the term "dating" implied acts of sexual intimacy—including, but not limited to, intercourse—Graham replied, after a brief pause: "Well, yes, obviously."
Graham then became visibly agitated and refused to answer any more questions on the subject, attempting to steer queries toward a discussion of energy policy. When the diversionary tactic failed, the congressman became, according to one reporter present, "ticked off" before leaving the room, bringing the press conference to a halt. The reporter described the representative's expression upon leaving the press conference as "like the proverbial cat caught with the canary."
"I knew it," said Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball With Chris Matthews and an outspoken critic of the legislative lothario. "They've been seen eating in restaurants together, they've been spotted in his car together, they've even been caught together in romantic getaway spots. He was clearly sleeping with her the whole time."
Debolt, from whom Graham is widely believed to have received oral sex, declined comment on the admission. Single with two children from a previous marriage, Debolt has been at the center of controversy since July 11, when allegations of her relationship with Graham first surfaced after the two of them were seen attending an AMFAR dinner-party fundraiser together.
Graham, single since his divorce from wife Sandra seven years ago, was allegedly introduced to Debolt by a "mutual friend" at a still-undetermined "social function" sometime in October 2000. It is still not known whether the two have been having sex the entire time, or if the sex only began recently.
"Well, at least it's finally out in the open," said Kewanee, IL, resident Bob Hueber, who said he voted for Graham in the last election but will never support him again. "Still, it's still a terrible thing to hear. He came right out and admitted to everything. Imagine, a federal legislator engaging in the act of physical union. Everyone in Illinois feels very ashamed right now. Ashamed and shocked."
Doreen Salzman, a Springfield, IL, mother of four, agreed.
"A grown man, an elected federal official no less, doing God-knows-what in bed with some woman," Salzman said. "How am I supposed to explain something like this to my kids? America has truly lost its innocence."
Until Monday, Graham had refused to confirm or deny charges that he and Debolt had repeatedly engaged in sexual intercourse, insisting that his "personal life isn't anybody's business." Media experts, however, say that Graham's refusal to discuss his exploits have caused him more harm than good: The focus of months of intense media scrutiny, Graham's rumored extracurricular escapades have captivated the nation and dominated headlines, particularly in the tabloids, where the story has taken on a life of its own despite—or perhaps because of—Graham's "hush-hush" ways.
"Graham apparently thought that, by keeping his shady bedroom activities—which we now know involved naked, nude, sexy sex—under wraps, the problem would just go away," New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams said. "If he had nothing to hide, he could have simply said so. But, by behaving like a guilty person, he caused himself untold damage. Now, all the sexy, naked skeletons in his sex closet are out there in the naked light of day for all to see."
Graham has refused to provide explicit details concerning the specifics of his "sexy sex-affair" with Debolt, but speculation runs rampant. Sexperts—sexual scientists who make a scholarly study of sex—say Graham and Debolt likely engaged in foreplay, including caressing and possibly tongue-kissing, leading to the removal of varied articles of clothing and, ultimately, both male and female nudity. Not long after, sexperts say, penetration of Debolt's vagina by Graham's penis probably resulted. Whether the two engaged in sex talk during their sex play is unknown, though many suggest it wouldn't be unlike the sexy congressman to do so.
"Sexually speaking, I wouldn't put anything past that guy," Adams said. "He probably has all sorts of weird sexy sex-kinks when he and his sexy sex-partner do their sexy dirty sex sex sex."