Senator Denies Report of Extramarital Sexual Encounter
Apr. 26, 1991
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ U.S. Sen. Charles S. Robb on Friday denied a television report to be broadcast Sunday that alleges he had an affair with a beauty queen while he was Virginia's governor.
In a transcript of a 2 1/2 -hour interview for NBC's ''Expose,'' Robb acknowledged a ''time or two'' when he was too ''close to the edge'' of committing adultery.
''I've clearly placed myself in circumstances a couple of times that I would describe as appropriate for a bachelor, inappropriate for a happily married family man and I regret that,'' Robb said in the transcript released by his staff.
Robb, 51, who is a Democrat, is married to Lynda Bird Johnson, the elder daughter of late President Lyndon B. Johnson. They were married at the White House 23 years ago.
A videotape of the NBC interview was shown to about a dozen reporters in Robb's Richmond office. Robb was in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, in New York on Friday, U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato said an advertisement for an upcoming ''60 Minutes'' episode about him falsely accused him of hanging up up on reporter Mike Wallace.
D'Amato said he was approached a month ago for an interview, but the CBS news magazine wouldn't agree to show it live and unedited.
''They really only wanted to show my edited responses, which I think is unfair journalism,'' he said.
Robb has hired libel lawyers and barraged reporters with denials of the reported affair with Tai Collins, a Roanoke woman who was Miss Virginia-USA in 1983.
He told The Washington Post that he met Ms. Collins in 1984 at a New York hotel, where they shared a bottle of wine and she gave him a massage. Ms. Collins, 28, told The Washington Post that she had an affair with Robb.
Ms. Collins told ''Expose'' they had sexual relations in the hotel, an allegation Robb called ''absolutely, categorically untrue.''
Peggy Hubble, an NBC spokeswoman, wouldn't comment on Robb's denials.
''I think people will have to watch the segment and decide for themselves,'' she said.
Ms. Collins was out of the country, family members told reporters.
On Friday, Robb aides also released a letter from the senator to Tom Brokaw, the NBC anchorman and host of ''Expose.''
''I did not commit adultery with Tai Collins; I did not engage in any sexual activity with her; I did not have an affair with her,'' Robb said in the letter, dated Thursday.
Robb, who served as Virginia governor from 1982 to 1986 and was elected to the Senate in 1988, often has been mentioned as a Democratic presidential candidate in 1996 or beyond. He has said he won't run in 1992.
The interview with NBC producer Marion Goldin also goes into previously reported allegations that while he was governor he attended parties in Virginia Beach where cocaine was used. Robb has denied ever using or seeing drugs.
He blamed the allegations about his private life on political enemies.
Robb's press secretary, Steve Johnson, said Robb has hired libel lawyers John Walsh of New York and Rodney A. Smolla of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. They met with NBC executives Tuesday but didn't ask the network to scuttle the show, Johnson said.
As for whether Robb would sue NBC for libel, Johnson said, ''We're certainly not foreclosing any option at this time.''
D'Amato, a New York Republican, saw an ad Thursday night and said it indicated he hung up on Wallace when the ''60 Minutes'' correspondent telephoned him seeking comment.
''Mike, you know that's just not true. That's a lie,'' D'Amato told reporters.
Roy Brunett, a ''60 Minutes'' spokesman, said it was ''hard to believe someone would criticize a broadcast that has not aired.''
He wouldn't discuss the content of the piece on D'Amato, saying only that it deals with controversy surrounding the senator as he seeks re-election next year.
D'Amato is under investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics and the Justice Department after allegations he used his office to steer federal funds to friends and political contributors.
The ad showed the senator walking down a hallway while an announcer says: ''It wouldn't be fair not to offer Sen. Alfonse D'Amato a chance to answer the terrible things people are saying about him. So we called him up and gave him that chance.''
Wallace is then shown holding a telephone, saying: ''And he hung up on me.''