Conservative Politician John G. Schmitz Is Found to Have Children Out of Wedlock Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

News media reported that ultraconservative California politician John G. Schmitz had fathered two children outside his marriage. His lover, Carla Stuckle, revealed his paternity after she was charged with child neglect. The revelation led to Schmitz’s downfall in politics.

Summary of Event

John G. Schmitz was a college instructor, California state senator, U.S. representative, and 1972 Republican presidential candidate who had outspoken views on family values, abortion, immigration, welfare, desegregation, homosexuality, and other controversial topics, branding him an ultraconservative politician. Consequently, the discovery in 1982 of his lengthy extramarital affair with former student and longtime Republican campaign volunteer Carla Stuckle, with whom he had two children, exposed Schmitz as a hypocrite and effectively ended his political career. Stuckle shocked the nation by naming Schmitz as the father of both children. His paternity became headline news on July 20. What ensued was a media frenzy and a political spiral downward for Schmitz. [kw]Schmitz Is Found to Have Children Out of Wedlock, Conservative Politician John G. (July 20, 1982) [kw]Wedlock, Conservative Politician John G. Schmitz Is Found to Have Children Out of (July 20, 1982) Schmitz, John G. Paternity suits;John G. Schmitz[Schmitz] Stuckle, Carla Schmitz, John G. Paternity suits;John G. Schmitz[Schmitz] Stuckle, Carla [g]United States;July 20, 1982: Conservative Politician John G. Schmitz Is Found to Have Children Out of Wedlock[01990] [c]Public morals;July 20, 1982: Conservative Politician John G. Schmitz Is Found to Have Children Out of Wedlock[01990] [c]Families and children;July 20, 1982: Conservative Politician John G. Schmitz Is Found to Have Children Out of Wedlock[01990] [c]Government;July 20, 1982: Conservative Politician John G. Schmitz Is Found to Have Children Out of Wedlock[01990] [c]Politics;July 20, 1982: Conservative Politician John G. Schmitz Is Found to Have Children Out of Wedlock[01990] [c]Sex;July 20, 1982: Conservative Politician John G. Schmitz Is Found to Have Children Out of Wedlock[01990]

A devout Roman Catholic of German descent, Schmitz was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and graduated from Marquette University in 1952. He became a second lieutenant and pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps and eventually was stationed in El Toro, California. Schmitz became a local celebrity when he interrupted an assault on a woman with his stern voice and not a weapon. Schmitz’s political career was set in motion after his heroics became front-page news.

Schmitz left the Marine Corps in 1960 and settled in Orange County, California—known for its relative wealth and conservative views—with his wife, Mary Suehr Schmitz. The couple raised a family of seven children and emphasized traditional family values. Schmitz joined the Marine Reserves and became a colonel. He also taught philosophy and political science at Santa Ana College, where he met Stuckle, a student who had emigrated from Germany. Eventually, Schmitz and Stuckle would have a secret nine-year affair and two children.

In the meantime, Schmitz became known for his outspoken and fiercely conservative views. While many Orange County residents found his antifeminist, Anti-Semitism[AntiSemitism] anti-Semitic, antigay, segregationist overtones offensive, he earned favor with a few wealthy Republicans, who supported his election to the California state senate in 1963 (he served from 1964 to 1970). After receiving several awards as Legislator of the Year from the Republican Assembly, he was elected by his district to replace U.S. Representative James Utt, who died suddenly, close to the end of his term in 1970. A few months later, Schmitz was elected to a full term in the U.S. Congress, where he continued with his critical—and often witty—comments. No one was spared, including the seated Republican president, Richard Nixon, who also was from Orange County. Schmitz accused Nixon of being too liberal. After Nixon left for what would be a monumental trip to communist China;and Richard Nixon[Nixon] China, Schmitz quipped, “I have no objection to President Nixon going to China. I just object to his coming back.” Subsequently, Schmitz was abandoned by many of his constituents, and he lost his bid for reelection to Congress in the 1972 Republican primary.

Schmitz immediately bounced back by securing the 1972 presidential candidacy of the American Independent Party American Independent Party, the party to which he switched. An extremely conservative group, its first presidential choice was Wallace, George George Wallace, Alabama’s former governor who vehemently opposed desegregation and was shot just weeks before the nominating convention. Schmitz lost the election, returned to California, and resumed teaching at Santa Ana College. Schmitz also had introduced the Human Life Amendment months before the landmark Roe v. Wade Roe v. Wade (1973) (1973) decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, wrote the book Stranger in the Arena: The Anatomy of an Amoral Decade, 1964-1974 (1974), and was a popular speaker at conservative events. Just weeks before his presidential nomination, Schmitz spoke at a God, Family, and Country rally for the Fourth of July. He regained his California senate seat in 1978, where he remained until his sex scandal became front-page news.

In July, 1982, Stuckle took her thirteen-month-old son, John George, to Children’s Hospital of Orange County, complaining of an injury to his genitals. Doctors discovered a hair strand so tightly wrapped around the boy’s penis that it was nearly severed. Surgery was required to remove the hair. Suspecting abuse, child protective services would not allow Stuckle to take the boy home. Investigators visiting Stuckle later discovered Eugenie, Stuckle’s three-week-old infant girl. The boy was placed in protective custody on July 19, despite appeals by Schmitz in court, and Stuckle was arrested and spent one night in jail on felony child-neglect charges. Schmitz had told the court a few days earlier that he was the father of the children.

Although out-of-wedlock births and extramarital affairs were not uncommon during the 1980’s, the revelation that Schmitz had two children out of wedlock reached scandalous proportions because of his reputation as a crusader for traditional family values. He was on the national council of the John Birch Society, an ultraconservative political group whose membership at one point included white supremacist Tom Metzer. Schmitz’s sharp tongue was too extreme even for this group, and he was relieved of his national council seat in 1982. His expulsion followed an abortion-rights debate in the state senate, after which an aide to Schmitz issued a press release that said Gloria Allred, a feminist attorney, was a “slick butch lawyeress.” The press release, titled “Attack of the Bull Dykes,” also described Allred’s supporters as “a sea of hard, Jewish and (arguably) female faces.” Schmitz did not deny his aide’s claim that the release was approved by Schmitz himself. Allred sued Schmitz for Libel cases;and John G. Schmitz[Schmitz] libel and won.

Following the discovery of this second family, the Schmitz family went into hiding and Schmitz did not reappear until the senate reconvened on August 2 after its summer recess. He refused to comment on his paternity or extramarital affair. However, during the court proceedings against Stuckle for child neglect, Schmitz—through his attorney—confirmed he fathered Stuckle’s two children. The charges against Stuckle were dismissed for insufficient evidence on August 24. On the same day as the dismissal, the state senate passed a resolution honoring Schmitz—as he was retiring from the senate and such ceremony was customary. Even so, some senators signed a letter of protest.

In September, Stuckle declared personal bankruptcy, and one month later her attorney confirmed that Schmitz agreed to pay child support. A year later, in a Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times interview (October 9, 1983), Stuckle said she still loved Schmitz and had no regrets regarding their relationship, even though the scandal ended their affair. She also indicated Schmitz had limited contact with the children. When she died in 1994 from complications related to diabetes, psychic Jeanne Dixon, a close friend of Mary Schmitz, took custody of the children. Unfortunately, Dixon died three years later, and the children were placed in a group home.

Impact

Given his increasingly offensive comments, as well as Orange County redistricting, Schmitz’s political future was already questionable in 1982. However, it was the sex scandal that effectively ended his political career. Attempting a revival in 1984, Schmitz ran for reelection to Congress but decisively lost in the primary. Moreover, the repercussions did not stop there. His wife, Mary, was a conservative commentator on the political talk show Speak Out (television) Speak Out. Not long after she defended family values on air, her husband’s indiscretions were revealed, and she left the show. The couple remained married until Schmitz’s death in 2001.

After Schmitz left the political arena, he continued to teach at Santa Ana College until he retired in 1990. In 1995, he moved to Virginia and became a vineyard owner. His oldest daughter, Letourneau, Mary Kay Mary Kay Letourneau, was found guilty in 1997 of statutory rape of a thirteen-year-old boy. At the time the sexual relationship began with sixth grader Fualaau, Vili Vili Fualaau, Letourneau was married, had young children, and was a schoolteacher in Washington State. Even though she went to prison, Letourneau and Fualaau eventually had two children of their own and married after she was divorced from her first husband. The media and public quickly compared Letourneau’s behavior to that of her father: an extramarital sexual relationship with her student who was an immigrant mirrored her father’s earlier behavior. As in his own case, Schmitz refused to comment on his daughter’s sex scandal.

Another family scandal occurred in September, 2005, when Schmitz’s conservative son, Schmitz, Joseph E. Joseph E. Schmitz, resigned his position as George W. Bush’s Defense Department inspector general and accepted a job with Blackwater, a defense contractor with a major security role in Iraq. However, Joseph’s departure occurred during accusations of unethical behavior related to his role as inspector general, including expense-account irregularities and interference with investigations of senior Bush officials. While Joseph denied any wrongdoing, the public—once again—compared the “sins of the father” to those of the children.

Response to the Schmitz family scandals suggests the public expects private morals to be consistent with the publicly stated values and behavior of certain public figures, especially politicians but also, as in the case of Letourneau, teachers. As holders of the public trust, credibility and integrity remain paramount values. The public’s message seems clear: Do as I say—not as I do—is unacceptable. Schmitz, John G. Paternity suits;John G. Schmitz[Schmitz] Stuckle, Carla

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Haldane, D., and J. Pasco. “Fiery O.C. Ultraconservative Schmitz Dies.” Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2001. This obituary of Schmitz is a good summary of his political career and the scandals that rocked his family. Includes infamous quotations by Schmitz.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Koplinski, Brad. Hats in the Ring: Conversations with Presidential Candidates—John Schmitz. North Bethesda, Md.: Presidential Publishing, 2000. Verbatim question-and-answer interview. Schmitz discusses his presidential candidacy and his career. Includes comments about Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Wallace, and the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Schmitz, John G. Stranger in the Arena: The Anatomy of an Amoral Decade, 1964-1974. Santa Ana, Calif.: Rayline, 1974. Schmitz candidly discusses his political views, especially on the issue of the right to life, or antiabortion.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Steinbacher, J. John Schmitz and the American Party. Fullerton, Calif.: Educator’s, 1972. Outlines the history of the American Independent Party and Schmitz’s involvement during the height of his political career.

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