Jenrette is a former Democratic representative from the Sixth Congressional District in South Carolina, whose name will always recall scandal.
He was born in Conway, South Carolina in 1936, graduated from University of South Carolina Law School in 1962, and worked as a city attorney, then a judge, as he attempted to reach higher office. he was finally successful in unseating John L. McMillan (1898-1979), who had served in the United States House of Representatives for seventeen consecutive terms between 1939 and 1973. Jenrette held the seat from 1975 until 1980, when he failed to be reelected for reasons that will soon be obvious.
In 1980, Jenrette was convicted of taking a $50,000 bribe in Abscam. He was sentenced to two years in prison and served 13 months. He had not been videotaped taking bribes, as some of his colleagues had, but he was recorded saying he’d been given cash by an associate. In 1989 he was convicted of shoplifting a necktie from a department store at Bailey’s Crossroads and was sentenced to 30 days. However, history will remember him for having sex with his then-wife, Rita Jenrette, behind a pillar on the steps of the Capitol Building. This is the origin of the name of the satirical singing group "The Capitol Steps."
According to varying sources, Jenrette is now either president of an advertising and public relations firm in Florence and Myrtle Beach, S.C., or runs a telecommunications business there. All the recent news that I can find discusses an ugly real estate deal he is in. He has been working hard to develop a man-made island in Cherry Grove, South Carolina. The island appeared during dredging in the 1960s, though nobody will admit to having built it, and Jenrette says he bought the island for $120,000 then, though he doesn't know who filled in the marsh. The marsh itself belongs to the state, so it is unclear if Jenrette should be allowed to own the island, let alone develop it. A federal grand jury investigated after Jenrette began marketing the land in the mid-1970s but did not find evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
Rita, for her part, posed for Playboy in 1984 and now sells real estate in New York.
The Washington Post "Destination Scandal" tour of DC
The Hill, May 29, 2002
The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC), November 17, 1999
The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC), July 22, 2000