Wilbur Mills and Fanne Foxe, talks with newsmen and photographers, outside her dressing room at the Pilgrim Theater. December 1st 1974.
Mark Sanford’s Argentine affair seems to recall the Tidal Basin incidence where another Argentinean woman who killed the political career of powerful Representative Wilbur Mills (D-Arkansas). It wasn’t the most famous indiscretion in Senate History, but it was no less embarrassing. On the night of October 9, 1974, Mills and his stripper friend Annabelle Battistella (better known as Fanne Foxe or the Argentine Firecracker) were stopped by Park Police in D.C. because the driver had not turned on the lights. When police approached the car, Foxe leapt from the car and jumped into the nearby Tidal Basin in an attempt to escape.
Despite the scandal, Mills was re-elected to Congress in November 1974 in a heavily Democratic year helped by the Watergate scandal. On November 30, Mills visited Foxe at a Boston strip club, The Pilgrim Theatre; he received a kiss on the cheek on stage. In light of this second encounter, Mills (and his alcoholism) was viewed as a liability in the upcoming election and stripped of his chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee. He did not seek re-election in 1976. It was an ignominious downfall for someone who had once been considered a presidential contender.
Foxe, who was promised a movie career by the congressman, changed her name to “the Tidal Basin Bombshell” and wrote a book, “The Stripper and the Congressman.”