Wilbur Mills Throws It All Away for an Argentine Stripper


Wilbur Mills with Argentine stripper Annabelle Battistella, better known as Fanne Foxe (From NYTimes.com)

In 1974, the well-respected congressman Wilbur Mills cracked.

To this day, Mills' tale of self-destruction is infamous for its audacity and mystery. As the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mills was one of the most powerful men in Washington. He was known for being both likeable and extraordinarily knowledgable. Many in congress believed Mills was a borderline teetotaler who went home at night to study the Internal Revenue Code.

That's why it was so shocking when Mills very publicly began cavorting around with the Argentine stripper Annabelle Battistella, better known as Fanne Foxe, a featured dancer at DC's seedy Silver Slipper strip club.

According to girls at the club, Mills would show up and throw around money with Foxe, who referred to him as Mr. Mills, on his arm. He even appeared with her onstage and freely introduced himself as Wilbur Mills. But Mills and Foxe, both married to other people, had a notoriously rocky relationship, often getting into loud arguments in public places.

At 2 a.m. Oct. 9, 1974, Mills would see the beginning of the end of his political career. While driving home from a party with Foxe and two friends, Mills was pulled over with his headlights out in West Potomac Park. Police found Mills with his glasses broken and his face bleeding after he'd gotten into a scuffle with Foxe. In true dramatic fashion, Foxe burst from the car and threw herself in the Tidal Basin in the park. Police pulled her out and sent her to the hospital, where doctors called it an insincere suicide attempt.

Despite the scandal, Mills won reelection the next month with 60% of the vote. But after continuing to appear with Foxe, and even holding a drunken press conference in her dressing room at one point, Mills lost the respect of his colleagues and his powerful chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee.

Mills admitted his problems, joined Alcoholics Anonymous and did not seek reelection in 1976.

Washington Post: Mills Admits Being Present During Tidal Basin Scuffle
Time: The Fall of Chairman Wilbur Mills

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