Go to Destination: Scandal!

Closed Session Romance on the Hill

Rep. Wayne Hays' $14,000-a-Year Clerk Says She's His Mistress

By Marion Clark and Rudy Maxa
Washington Post Staff Writers
May 23, 1976

For nearly two years, Rep. Wayne L. Hays (D-Ohio), powerful chairman of the House Administration Committee, has kept a woman on his staff who says she is paid $14,000 a year in public money to serve as his mistress.

Hays denies this, saying "Hell's fire! I'm a very happily married man."

"I can't type, I can't file, I can't even answer the phone," says Elizabeth Ray, 27, who began working for Hays in April 1974 as a clerk. Since then, Ray says she has not been asked to do any Congress-related work and appears at her Capitol Hill office once or twice a week for a few hours.

Currently, she is closeted in a luxuriously appointed office in the Longworth House Office Building behind a blank door. "Supposedly," she says, "I'm on the oversight committee. But I call it the Out-of-Sight Committee."

According to Ray, the 64-year-old congressman usually has visited her for sexual relations once or twice a week in their long-standing relationship.

Hays divorced his first wife of over 25 years last year. Five weeks ago he married his veteran Ohio office secretary, Pat Peak, who continues to live in Ohio.

As chairman of the Administration Committee, Hays quietly exercises enormous power over such Hill activities as congressional travel, payroll, staffing, parking and police. He also serves on the House International Relations Committee.

Last year Hays, who was first elected to Congress in 1948, survived a challenge from House freshmen to replace him as committee chairman.

Hays is running as a favorite-son candidate for President in the June 8 Ohio primary, and close associates say he is considering running for governor of Ohio in 1978.

Five days before his wedding to Pat Peak, Hays told Ray after a dinner date that his marriage would not change their relationship "if you behave yourself." Her position on the payroll would also remain secure, he added, but suggested she "start coming in two hours a day." Said Hays: "That Woodward [Bob Woodward of the Washington Post] is after me, and if he found out about you . . ."

In the same conversation, Hays told Ray, "I ought to be good for one week since I'm getting married."

"What about after?" asked Ray.

"If you behave yourself, we'll see," said Hays.

"Well," said Ray, "what about my job?"

"Well, if you come in a little . . ." said Hays.

"Do I still have to s---- you?" asked Ray.

"Well, that never mattered," said Hays.

"Oh, I thought it did," said Ray.

Hays, when asked yesterday morning if he had ever asked Ray to "start coming in two hours a day," said, "I asked her to come it at 9 and stay until 5."

He also denied ever taking Ray to dinner and claimed he hadn't seen her "all this week, or last week." However, two Post reporters were present when Hays dined with Ray both at the Hot Shoppes and the Chapparral restaurants in the Key Bridge Marriott Motor Hotel on different occasions, one last Monday night.

Ray, a native of Asheville, N.C., says she worked briefly as a stewardess, waitress and car rental clerk before beginning work on the Hill in the summer of 1972.

During a year and a half working as a clerk on the staff of former Rep. Kenneth J. Gray (D-Ill.), Ray says she was frequently given days off to prepare for evenings spent on a date with Gray or favored constituents. She says she often entertained Gray's male friends aboard Gray's houseboat, docked on the Potomac.

Gray, reached by phone, laughed when Ray's name was mentioned. "Elizabeth Ray," he said, "that name always evokes a laugh."

He denied dating her, and said, "I never knew what my employees did after work. Liz was great at greeting people . . . I think she did a little typing."

He said he thought Ray had been on his houseboat, "maybe two times for big office parties."

Ray says it was Gray who introduced her to Hays; Hays says he can't remember which congressman it was.

During the first year she worked for Hays, Ray was listed with the House clerk's office as an assistant clerk earning more than $11,000 a year. Last spring she quit and traveled to Hollywood to try to earn her living as an actress (I'd been giving the Academy Award performances once a week for two years," she said.) She returned to Hay's office to ask for a job in late July, 1975.

Davis says he remembers Ray working for him for about a month last summer as a general typist. Told she could not type, Davis said:

"She's not an expert 300-words-per-minute, but she could have addressed envelopes." He added "she wasn't outstanding" and soon went to work for Hays "because she wanted to go over there. She knew more people over there."

Hays, who says he thinks "she's still working on Mendel's staff," said, "I did help her get a job with him."

When Ray asked for a raise several months ago, she says Hays transferred her back to the House Administration payroll, upped her salary to $14,000 and let her keep her Longworth office.

When asked why he gave Ray a raise, Hays replied: "The landlord was after her, the credit union, she was heavily in debt. I felt sorry for her."

Ray's office would be number 1506P (for Private) if the number had not been removed from the door. It is next to Rep. Bella S. Abzug's (D-N.Y.) office, in which -- in only a slightly larger space -- a dozen or more Abzug staffers are shoehorned into as many desks piled with office work.

Ray's office is serenely empty, except for her backgammon set and collection of framed signed photographs on the wall next to her desk, from entertainers and other famous persons.

On her polished wood desk is a copy of "Fear of Flying," two red telephones and a color-coordinated red Selectric typewriter with a smoked Plexiglas top. It is unplugged because, says Ray, she doesn't know how to turn it on. Against one wall is a long black leather couch: on the floor, a thick wall-to-wall carpet.

Behind Ray's desk is one occupied by Paul Panzarella, who lives with Hays' niece, Susan Hays. He is listed as an assistant clerk on Hays' Administration Committee.

The desk is bare, but for two books, and, according to Ray, Panzarella "comes in less than I do." Doug Frost, Hays' staff director, says, "Panzarella is on the full committee, but he has been helping on the Oversight Subcommittee. He's always there when I call, and he's done excellent work."

During the last two months, repeated calls to both Panzarella and Ray at their office have not been answered, and on several visits to the office, Panzarella has not been seen.

Reached at home, and asked if it were true that neither he nor Ray ever came into work, Panzarella said: "I have no comment on anything."

The only other staffer on the Oversight Subcommittee is Trezavant Hane, a clerk, who works for Chairman Mendel Davis. Hane says he doesn't know where Ray's office is, acknowledges that she has never done any work with him or for him on subcommittee business and claims he would know if she had ever done any work related to the Oversight Subcommittee.

Ray is not listed in the Congressional Directory as a staffer on either the Administration Committee or its obscure arm, the ad hoc Oversight Subcommittee.

She says Evelyn Wilson, office manager of the Administration Committee, told her recently that details of her employment were "confidential."

A call to the House Finance Office, however, confirmed that Ray's checks are currently issued from the Administration Committee account. Asked whether she had ever told Ray her employment details were confidential, Wilson said, "I'm trying to recall. We've had many conversations. I don't believe that I told her details of her employment were confidential, but Jesus Christ, I can't remember everything I say."

Hays' staff director, Frost, said he did not know where Ray's Oversight Subcommittee office was or what her duties were, and referred inquiries to Hays.

After hurried dinner dates, which typically begin in one of the Key Marriott restaurants around 7 p.m., Hays and Ray usually adjourn to her Arlington apartment.

"He never stops in the living room," she says. "He walks right into the bedroom and he watches the digital clock. He's home by 9:30."

Ray's apartment, furnished totally in mass-produced Mediterranean, is in a high-rise building with colored fountains banking its entrance. Her living room and dining cove are done in red -- red, unusually thick wall-to-wall carpeting, heavy, always-drawn red draperies, plush red velvet chairs and couch. The bedroom is in white with the same thick shag rug, a white Mediterranean bed, and a baby blue fake fern tree in one corner.

"I don't hate him, I'm a nervous wreck," says Ray in explanation of why she is now confirming her role. "I'm afraid of him. There are 10 or 15 offices [on the Hill] that I know girls have had to do this to get a job. Only mine is so cruel; the other congressmen at least treat them like a date. I used to go into depression, but I had to tell myself that it's a job I have to do right now."

Rep. Phillip Burton (D-Calif.) was once quoted as calling Hays "the meanest man in Congress." Adds Ray, "He's also the most powerful. Everyone is afraid of him."

"Hays likes to brag a lot," she says, "about how he's such a good friend of Henry Kissinger's and he's flying here on Air Force One and getting all this security protection when he goes to Europe."

And once, during the height of the Fanne Foxe-Wilbur Mills publicity, atop the Marriott in the restaurant, Hays bragged to her about what he would do in a similar situation.

"He told me," says Ray, "that if any of his women 'ever did that to me, they'd be down there.' He pointed out the window to the Potomac. 'What do you mean, down there?' I said, and he looked at me and said, 'Down there, six feet under.'"

Hays denies saying this, claiming "It is a figment of her imagination."

Hays is scheduled to leave today for London on a Bicentennial congressional trip to bring back the Magna Carta.

© The Washington Post Co.

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