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Abigail Perlman Featured In "Second Wives Club" Article

Abigail Perlman, the wife of Rep. Roy Blunt is featured in the current issue of The New Republic in a Michelle Cottle story called, "Arm Candy, Beltway-Style: Second Wives Club."

Here's a taste from the story:

Occasionally, a congressman's decision to dissolve a first marriage causes him professional grief. When then- Representative Billy Tauzin left his first wife, Gayle, and then wed former executive assistant Cecile Bergeron in 1993, his Cajun constituents took it hard. Gayle was popular around the district, and observers noted that many voters were angrier about the congressman's dumping the hometown favorite than they were two years later when he announced he was moving from the Democratic to the Republican side of the aisle. Ultimately, the smooth-talking Tauzin managed to mend enough fences to salvage his seat. Former Senator Tim Hutchinson was not so skilled. In 1999, the die-hard Christian conservative offended much of his base when he left his longtime wife for former aide Randi Fredholm. Lingering resentment over the issue is thought to have contributed to his defeat in 2002.

For the most part, however, divorce and remarriage are now so common in the broader culture that they no longer pose a significant political liability. The Hutchinson affair notwithstanding, even self-professed family-values Republicans like House Majority Whip Roy Blunt--who married his second wife a mere six months after the divorce from his first was final--tend to be forgiven for their personal indiscretions come election time.

Apparently, the voters of the 7th district of Missouri are a forgiving people, because they overlooked the Congressman's adulterous affair at election time.

Later in the story, Blunt's legislative actions on behalf of Perlman, who was at the time Blunt's mistress, and her employer Altria are prominently featured as a no-no even by D.C.'s lax standards:

For many, Senator Elizabeth Dole still reigns as the prototypical second wife. "She builds him up and gets her own power in the bargain," summarizes a longtime Beltway TV producer. Other oft-cited examples of second wives forging such win-win partnerships include airline lobbyist Linda Daschle and auto indus-try lobbyist Debbie Dingell--both of whom have benefited professionally over the years by dint of their husbands' congressional positions (though not in any di-rect quid-pro-quo way, of course, because that would be illegal). But by far the most notable--and notorious--power union of recent times is that of Roy Blunt and Abigail Perlman, director of government affairs for Altria. Since his 1996 election, Blunt's swift rise in the House has been credited to his close ties to K Street--ties undoubtedly strengthened by his friendly relations with the go-to gal for Altria, which just so happens to be one of Blunt's top campaign con-tributors. Perlman, meanwhile, could not have asked for a more energetic cham-pion of her employer's interests than her congressional beau. In 2002, within hours of being named majority whip, Blunt quietly inserted a provision benefit-ing Altria-owned Philip Morris into the Homeland Security Act. Unfortunately for the couple, the measure was pulled as soon as colleagues discovered it, and when Blunt ran unsuccessfully to replace Tom DeLay as majority leader earlier this year, the boondoggle provided his opponents with much ammunition--highlighting the complications that can arise from having a power wife. (emphasis added)

More on this fascinating relationship in days to come.



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