The Capitol sits on land once known as Jenkins' Hill, which rises eighty-eight feet above the Potomac River in Washington. Bathed in light at night, the Capitol's white dome is a symbol of America -- strong, dignified, and pure. But the impression is misleading. First occupied on November 17, 1800, the nineteenth-century neoclassical building has over the years been burned, bombed, rebuilt, extended, and restored. "Part of it was sandstone, part of it was marble, the dome is cast-iron. It's all painted white to make it look like one unified building," said Donald A. Ritchie, associate historian of the Senate. "It's really a hodgepodge."
If the white paint masks the turbulent history of the Capitol, so does the labyrinthine Capitol conceal what goes on inside Congress. For in the 540-room Capitol, and in the surrounding House and Senate office buildings, on the manicured grounds, and in secret hideaways and tunnels, the most shocking, outrageous, and often corrupt activities take place. The activities highlight not only the hypocrisy of members of Congress and their staffs, but also what is wrong with the political system Congress itself has fashioned.
Each year, 3 to 5 million Americans traverse the corridors of this mosaic-lined treasure box, wearing out the Minton tiles underfoot. Yet the tourists never see large portions, which are roped off or closed to the public. These areas include nearly one hundred hideaway offices that the congressional leadership and more senior members maintain for themselves in the Capitol, Marked only by door numbers, the hideaway offices are often fabulously appointed rooms with gilded crystal chandeliers, ornate floor length mirrors, working fireplaces, and frescoed walls and ceilings. Some of the first hideaway offices were carved out of the chambers of Supreme Court justices when the court met in the Capitol.
Ostensibly, the offices allow members to escape the demands of their regular offices so they can think, or to save time getting to a vote on the floor of the House or Senate. But Daniel Webster used his hideaway -- S-326-A -- to store his wine. More recently, hideaways have often been used for "hideaway honeys."
Capitol Police officer Gregory M. Lacoss will never forget turning the doorknob to one of Lyndon B. Johnson's seven Capitol hideaways when LBJ was majority leader of the Senate. It was 3 A.M., and Lacoss was making his rounds, checking to make sure all offices we locked. Lacoss opened the massive door and gasped. On the sofa, Johnson was having sex with Carole Tyler, a blond, curvaceous secretary.
"There was LBJ on top of Carole," Lacoss recalled. "I said, 'Excuse me.' He said, 'You son of a bitch.' He jumped up. I took off running because I knew that man's temper. I ran to the other end of the Senate building, down the marble stairway, past the Ohio clock. I ran through the Rotunda. He was running after me. I ran to the House wing, down to the terrace level, and to the chief's office."
"I just caught LBJ on top of Carole," Lacoss shouted at the desk officer on duty. "He's threatening to kill me." The desk officer told Lacoss to hide in a locker. "Those lockers were little," Lacoss said. "I had a gun and flashlight, and I crammed myself in. I could hardly breathe. LBJ came flying in. I could hear him slam the door. I thought it would break. He said, 'Where is that officer?'" The desk officer said, "Who are you talking about?" Johnson replied, "That son of a bitch who came in here. I'll kill him."
Eventually, Johnson tired of the hunt, and the desk officer extricated Lacoss from the locker. "He had to pull me out," Lacoss said. "I couldn't open it myself."
James T. Trollinger, a former deputy chief of the Capitol Police, said that one night one of his officers told him he had found the door to a Capitol hideaway unlocked. Said Trollinger, "The officer told me there was trouble in this one room. He was checking to make sure things were locked up. This door was open, and somebody yelled at him. There were no lights on...He said something was wrong there."
A real police officer would have demanded that the individual come out with his hands up. But over the years, Capitol Police officers have been so repressed by their masters -- members of the U.S. Congress -- that they do not think like real police and often defend practices that other law enforcement officers would consider scandalous. So the officer in this case simply told his supervisor, who was Trollinger.
"I went there and opened the door," Trollinger said. "I flicked on a light.
It was a senator with his secretary," a pretty brunette. "I knew them both. He was a big man. Everyone in the country knew his name. He was a statesman. But he did like his secretary....They were naked and having sex. He said to get the hell out of here and close that f---- door."
"One secretary had her hair in a swept-up hairdo pinned with a couple of pins," a former congressional aide said. "She used to whip over to Sen. Joseph M. Montoya's hideaway and screw him or give him [oral sex], and then she'd be back in thirty minutes with her hair back up."
Some members use their regular offices for similar purposes. "I've seen a lot of members falling-down drunk, and pretty girls going into their offices at two A.M.," said George L. Holmes Jr., a former Capitol Police officer. "This goes on all the time."
"I think everybody [in the Capitol Police] came across members or staffers having sex in their offices at one time or another," said Charles T. Kindsvatter, a retired Capitol Police captain who was in charge of training and research until 1991. "It was hard to find somebody who hadn't had this experience."
"We checked the doors, and if they were unlocked, we would open them and see who was in there," David A. Curry, a former Capitol Police captain, said. While Curry was patrolling the Cannon House Office Building, the first congressional office building, at 2 A.M., he "walked in" on Silvio O. Conte from Massachusetts. "He had a girl with him. They were on a couch and had no clothes on," Curry recalled.
Later, Curry served as bartender at parties given by Congressman Kenneth J. Gray on his houseboat. "Ken Gray would have wild parties," Curry said.
Richard F. Xander, a Metropolitan Police sergeant who was detailed to the Capitol Police, recalled that long before Rep. Wilbur D. Mills began consorting with stripper Fanne Foxe in 1974, he saw Mills in the Silver Slipper, a strip joint, getting drunk. "They had a dark place where the girls gave guys a bottle of cheap champagne and charged them for Dom Pérignon," he said. "They played with them. An old codger was half-drunk, and the girl would run her hands up his leg a few times, and then she would leave and he would go home horny and broke. Mills was in there."
According to a Metropolitan Police informant in Washington, Mills -- then considered the most powerful member of Congress because of his tight control of the House Ways and Means Committee -- regularly received oral sex from a transvestite. When he finally found out the transvestite's true gender, he was devastated. But Mills, who was married, also regularly had sex with secretaries in his hideaway office. Wayne N. Beckett, a former Capitol police officer, recalled surprising Mills there around midnight one night.
"I saw the secretary bent over the desk," he said. "He looked up, and I got the hell out of there. I couldn't tell what she looked like. All I saw was that naked butt....I just left there kind of embarrassed. I went to the basement. The phone rang. The sergeant came back and said, 'Were you just upstairs? Were you in his office?' I said yes. He said, 'Then get the hell out of here. You weren't working tonight.' I said, 'What?' He said, 'Do you want your job or not? Just go home.' They wouldn't tell him who I was."
"I walked in on a member having sex," said Jimmie G. Young, a former Capitol Police officer, "The senator is still there. It was in his personal office. It was around eight P.M. when we were doing building checks....He was having sex with one of his secretaries on the couch....She was a beautiful young girl in her early twenties."
The senator asked if the door was locked. "My partner said if the door was locked, we wouldn't be in here," Young said. Rodney C. Eades, a former Capitol Police officer, recalled that former House Speaker Carl B. Albert, who was a "very heavy drinker," would "come in on Saturday mornings just blasted away. He couldn't walk. He had a white Thunderbird. He would bang [the car] into the wall or the steps [of the Capitol].
"Carl Albert was always drunk," said Raymond L. Carson, a former Capitol Police lieutenant. Albert has long denied he had a drinking problem.
"There's a room behind where the Speaker sits," former officer Beckett said. "The members rest there. They had high-backed chairs and a fireplace. There was a door to the balcony. Wilbur Mills and this sergeant would get drunk. To sober them up, the Speaker [Albert] would tell us to put them out on the balcony and lock the door. Sometimes it was ten degrees out Carl Albert was drunk, too. They, would play pranks on each other. They would lock each other in the bathroom. Albert was in a stall and Mills took Super Glue and glued him in."
Like Albert, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in the 1980s "had a serious drinking problem" and was "arrogant," Eades said. One morning, Eades was patrolling the steps of the Capitol and saw Kennedy in his car "flying across the plaza at a very high rate of speed. A member came out and was going to jog down the steps and go directly across the street. I saw Kennedy coming. I know he would not have hit him. The congressman probably would have stopped. But Kennedy might have swerved around and hit someone else. I put my hand up to stop him. He came within inches of me in his car. He said, 'You know you are a stupid son of a bitch.' "
Nelson C. Sours, who retired from the Capitol Police in 1992, said Kennedy would arrive "inebriated" at the Dirksen Senate Office Building at 1 or 3 A.M. On one occasion, even though several entrances to the building were open, Kennedy demanded that the Capitol Police open the one nearest his office. "We got the keys from the superintendent and opened the door for him specifically. He wouldn't walk thirty yards to the other door," Sours said.
Richard W. Micer, a Capitol Police inspector who retired in 1995, said Kennedy often made such demands. "Ted Kennedy was drinking a lot," Micer said. "He would like to go in the door closest to his office, which was locked. He would rant and rave. They would unlock it."
"We have found members literally lying in the gutter," former deputy chief Trollinger said. "One time, we had real deep snow. I was working midnight. The scout cars were having difficulty even with chains. I used my own car, and I found this member of Congress fallen in the street. He was bleeding and drunk."
"A member had had a snootful and had fallen asleep on the street," Joseph R. Schaap, who retired from the Capitol Police in 1992 as a lieutenant, said. "We picked him up. He was a mess. He had vomited on himself. He was a conservative Republican. I put him in the car....We took him to the Cannon Building and washed him off with a hose in the car wash. Then we put him in his office."
One night, the Capitol Police received a call to pick up a powerful congressman from Texas who was drunk. "We picked him up and asked his address," Schaap said. It turned out the address, which was in northern Virginia, was wrong. "We pulled into a filling station. A county police car pulled up. They said, 'What are you guys doing down here?' We said, 'We're trying to find his home.' They said, 'That drunken son of a bitch.' So they told us his address," Schaap said. "His wife called him every name under the sun."
Several times, Eades learned from women he was dating that members of Congress ranging from Wayne Hays to Sen. John G. Tower had made passes at them. "I was dating a secretary who worked for Hays," he said. "He was a vicious manipulator. He would say, 'When are you going to have Uncle Wayne over for dinner?'"
One afternoon, Eades was called to Hays's hideaway office in the Capitol. Elizabeth Ray, the voluptuous former beauty queen who could not type and later claimed that Rep. Wayne L. Hays, the Ohio Democrat, had hired her to have sex with him, had called the Capitol Police for help. At the time, she had not yet begun working for Hays, who later admitted having a "personal relationship" with her.
"Her blouse was slightly torn," Eades said. "Hays was in one room, she was in another. She didn't say he was trying to rape her. She said, 'He put his hands on me.' She looked disheveled."
On another occasion, a Capitol elevator operator told Eades that Senator Tower, the Republican from Texas, had attacked her. "He felt her up one time when she was operating the elevator," Eades said. "She was a knockout -- gorgeous, blond, well built. She was in college at the time....He was half-drunk. There was alcohol on his breath. She said, 'Please don't touch me again.'"
If the elevator operator was unwilling, many other women were. "One woman tried to bed every member of the Senate," said Martin Lobel, a Washington lawyer who was formerly an aide to Sen. William Proxmire, the Wisconsin Democrat. "She almost had a majority. The word got out she was available and terrific."
A former congressional aide recalled how, in pre-AIDS days, he participated in a monthly "gang bang" with a shapely twenty-five-year-old blonde who worked for Sen. Alan Cranston, the California Democrat. "The Dirksen Senate Office Building has an attic," the aide said. "The word would spread that the girl was out, and guys would go. You'd go up there and join the end of the line. She was very pretty. She would be sitting in a chair, and you'd either stand there and stick your [penis] in her mouth or sit in the chair and she would sit on you."
The woman became known as the Attic Girl. The former aide said, "A dozen would do a gang bang. She did it about once a month. She just got horny....She would do it in the morning around coffee hour." Occasionally, the Attic Girl got down on all fours and took on two male staffers at once. Dave Curry, the Capitol Police captain, said senators participated in the ritual. "She was a regular with senators in one of the attics," he said.
A female aide on the House side would stay late almost every night, leaving the door to her congressman's office unlocked. Capitol Police officers would go in to see if everything was all right. "She would come on to them," a former officer said. "She had sex with them there in the office every night."
"If you wanted to have a good time, you'd go up there," said Wayne Beckett, the former Capitol Police officer. "She would leave the door open purposely so the officers would find her. It was a little game."
In a variation on that theme, David S. Kiernan, another former Capitol Police officer, said that a female House staffer regularly showed up late at night at the Cannon House Office Building. Wearing a tight skirt and sweater, she would claim she had forgotten her keys and would ask that someone from the building superintendent's office let her in.
"Later the guys would say, 'I was glad to be of service,'" Kiernan said. "They told me that the woman would ask them to come in and would stand over her desk and invite them to 'make sure everything is okay' or 'to check things for me' They would proceed to have sex on the desk."
Of all the perquisites available to members and their staffs, none is more precious than parking. Carson, the former Capitol Police lieutenant, was assigned to make sure only members or -- if there was room -- staffers parked on the Southeast Capitol Drive. "This beautiful blonde, a House staffer who was well built, came up in a convertible," Carson said. "She said, 'You got a place for me, big guys?' -- real flirtatious. We said, 'No, ma'am, we're full,' She said, 'Well, I bet if I showed you something, you could get me a parking place.' I said, 'Well, I don't know.' So she lifts up her dress, and she is wearing no underwear. She flashes us. I said, 'That's very nice, but we still have no parking places.'"
A legendary female staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee was even more accommodating. She regularly drove to the plaza at the west front of the Capitol at night and asked Capitol Police officers if they wanted oral sex. She quickly got the name Blow Job Jane.
"Her ambition in life was to give every policeman on Capitol Hill [oral sex]," said Wayne Beckett, the former Capitol Police officer. "She'd walk up to you or drive up to you and would say, 'Do you want [oral sex]?'...She was proud of it."
"She would drive across the plaza and take officers in her car and give them a blow job," Carson, the former Capitol Police lieutenant, said.
Members of Congress were even more brazen. When blond, buxom Rita Jenrette revealed that she had had sex on the steps of the Capitol with her husband, Rep. John W. Jenrette Jr., a South Carolina Democrat, it sounded to outsiders like an aberration. "It was behind the columns at the east front," said Jenrette, who later posed for Playboy. "I had on a full-length coat that enveloped him. We were standing."
In fact, outdoor sex was common but not publicized. "A lot of stuff went on in the parking lots with the young girls," Linwood T. Binford Jr., a former officer, said. "They pulled in the parking lot. They were congressmen, and you didn't bother them. [After they had sex inside their cars,] they would stand outside the car, kiss, and one would go one way and the other went another."
"One time a member from Texas was having sex right in front of the Capitol in his car," Paul R. McGill, a former officer, said. "We tried to get him to move his car out of the way. He told us basically go to hell. It was on the east front of the Capitol. It was oral sex to each other on the backseat....You could tell they were having sex. The car was rocking."
McGill said he left the Texan alone. "Whatever they did was never wrong," he said. "They make the laws for everyone but themselves."
Copyright © 1997 by Ronald Kessler