PORTLAND, OR — Modern American political history is full of sex scandals, from former president Bill Clinton’s numerous affairs to last year’s hubbub around ex-New York governor Eliot Spitzer. But the latest one to hit the news has a unique twist: it involves not only a homosexual relationship, but one with a “barely legal” teenager.
Sam Adams, the mayor of Portland, has admitted that he had lied to the media about a past relationship with a then-18-year-old intern, CNN reports. “In the past, I have characterized my relationship with Beau Breedlove as purely non-sexual,” Mayor Adams said in a January 19 public statement. “That is not true. Beau Breedlove and I had a sexual relationship for a few months in the summer of 2005.”
In September 2007, Adams denied allegations of a romantic connection between him and Breedlove, saying that he had served as a mentor for the then-teenager, in an interview with the Willamette Week. But this week, the newspaper ran a story in which Adams revealed the truth about the relationship.
“I should have been honest at the time when this first surfaced,” Adams told the Week. “But I didn’t believe that given the way that rumors were being spread — about whether I had broken the law by having sex with a minor — that people would believe me.”
The following day, he apologized to the public for the deception. “I want to apologize to the people of Portland for my dishonesty,” Adams, 45, told reporters in a Portland news conference on January 20, “and for embarrassing them.” The mayor explained that he had lied — and had asked Breedlove to back him up in the lie — because of uncertainty as to how it would affect his ongoing election campaign. “I definitely lied to avoid what I thought was another lie that I couldn’t overcome,” he confirmed to a reporter who asked if Adams had lied in order to win the election.
Adams stressed in the conference that he had not broken any laws, however, claiming that the relationship, “although inappropriate, was legal” because the pair had not begun dating until after Breedlove’s 18th birthday. He added that “this is fundamentally an issue of a public official lying. I don’t think this fundamentally is an issue about sexual orientation.”
He added that he had no intention to resign the mayoral office: “This was a serious error that happened about four years ago. My job now is to come clean — I mucked it up — and to press forward.”
Sam Adams is the first-ever openly gay mayor of a major American city. He assumed the office on New Year’s Day. Adams is currently in a long-term relationship with Peter Zuckerman, an award-winning journalist with The Oregonian.