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Wilbur D. Mills

Democrat, Arkansas (1939-1976)


The Honorable Wilbur Mills, Democrat from Arkansas, the ancient, powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, got a little carried away one night.  

On October 9, 1974, Mills and four companions were pulled over by U. S. Park Police for  speeding with no lights on near the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, around 2 o'clock in the morning.  Out of the car popped Annabella Batista, a stripper with the stage name of Fanne Fox, the "Argentine Firecracker."  She jumped into the Tidal Basin.

Mills was smashed, drunk as a skunk, and was bleeding from his nose and had scratches on his face.  Wilbur and Fanne were neighbors.  Turns out that the 74-year-old Mills and his wife lived in the same building as Foxe and her husband.   

Things settled down, but then a couple of weeks later, Mills and Fanne show up in Boston, drunk, on stage.  Mills claimed he had "absolutely no memory" of that spectacle. 

Mills once had designs on being President, but after Fanne, he returned to Congress, a pathetic figure, and ended his 38-year career in 1976.

Wilbur set the gold standard for dumb-ass behavior by an Old White Guy. But he also helped Washington (and the country) get through some pretty rough times.  We'd just gone through Watergate and Nixon's pardon.  It was time for a little fun with the Honorable Gentleman from Arkansas and the Firecracker.  Thanks for the memories, Wilbur.  

Sources:  Michael Farquhar, "Capitol Offense:  D.C.'s Long, Unhappy History of Sin," Washington Post, June 5, 2002.