Wilbur Mills Affair

BE022113Wilbur Mills and Fanne Foxe, talks with newsmen and photographers, outside her dressing room at the Pilgrim Theater. December 1st 1974.

Mark Sanford’s Argentine affair seems to recall the Tidal Basin incidence where another Argentinean woman who killed the political career of powerful Representative Wilbur Mills (D-Arkansas). It wasn’t the most famous indiscretion in Senate History, but it was no less embarrassing. On the night of October 9, 1974, Mills and his stripper friend Annabelle Battistella (better known as Fanne Foxe or the Argentine Firecracker) were stopped by Park Police in D.C. because the driver had not turned on the lights. When police approached the car, Foxe leapt from the car and jumped into the nearby Tidal Basin in an attempt to escape.

Despite the scandal, Mills was re-elected to Congress in November 1974 in a heavily Democratic year helped by the Watergate scandal. On November 30, Mills visited Foxe at a Boston strip club, The Pilgrim Theatre; he received a kiss on the cheek on stage. In light of this second encounter, Mills (and his alcoholism) was viewed as a liability in the upcoming election and stripped of his chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee. He did not seek re-election in 1976. It was an ignominious downfall for someone who had once been considered a presidential contender.

Foxe, who was promised a movie career by the congressman, changed her name to “the Tidal Basin Bombshell” and wrote a book, “The Stripper and the Congressman.”

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0 thoughts on “Wilbur Mills Affair

  1. Wilbur, Wilbur, such entertaining antics. So, the Tidal Basin Bombshell actually leapt into the Tidal Basin to escape the cops? How ludicrous, all you had to do is turn on your lights, bro. I can imagine that must’ve been hard to think about while you’re getting head driving down the road. I can appreciate that. One of the great congressional scandals that actually made the news. Think of all the zillions of others that are never exposed. Oh, the humanity, no wonder D.C. is often referred to as the District of Criminals. Not that getting head while driving down the road is criminal, but…ah, you know what I mean. Thanks for the amusement, Wilbur, R.I.P.

    1. Another man, not Mills, was driving the car at the time the police pulled the car over. There were other passengers in the car in addition to Mills and Battistella. Further, the evidence observed by the police suggests that Battistella was having an altercation with Mills at the time they were pulled over. I don’t think Mills was actually doing anything criminal.

      1. That car was my step dad’s Oldsmobile. Our parents were out of the country when our maid’s husband stole the car. My step brothers and I had our own cars and were staying at a friends house. When we got back to our house the weekend before school, the Oldsmobile was in the driveway. We didn’t know anything had happened until my step dad got the ticket in the mail.

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