The Washington Post

Hay-Adams no stranger to scandal

The Hay Adams Hotel is back in the scandal spotlight. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post) The Hay Adams Hotel is back in the scandal spotlight. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

The Hay-Adams is back in the scandal spotlight, with revelations by our colleagues that the hotel was the scene of some very poor behavior by a high-ranking Secret Service agent on the President’s security detail.

It’s not the venerable establishment’s first rodeo. The Hay-Adams was already a member of the elite cadre of high-end hotels that have been the backdrop to some of Washington’s most notorious doings.

Back in 1987, conservative fundraiser Carl “Spitz” Channell admitted to cheating on taxes to help arm Nicaraguan rebels, an operation that involved the help of Ollie North — and at least four meetings were held at the Hay-Adams to solicit money for the Contras from sympathizers.

“In the leathery splendor of the dining rooms, and in the lush comfort of the cocktail lounge,” Lloyd Grove wrote in The Washington Post at the time. “They happily wrote and received large checks.”

Still, the more recent naughtiness does give the hotel its first taste of a sex scandal (the Secret Service agent in question was trying to get back into the room of a woman he’s apparently spent some time with), putting it in august company.

The Mayflower is perhaps the town’s leading sex-scandal hotel: it’s where former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer took his high-priced escorts, and a sanctuary for both a rumored mistress of President Kennedy, and for Monica Lewinsky. The Jefferson, of course, was where former presidential aide Dick Morris indulged in a little toe-sucking with a prostitute.

Here’s our favorite detail about the most recent incident to land the Hay-Adams on the scandal tour of Washington: the incident all began at the hotel’s bar, where the Secret Service agent met the woman with whom he had the tryst.

And the name of that bar is, improbably, Off the Record.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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