Just An Affectionate Guy
By Richard Lacayo/TIME
Part of the job of being Democratic party chairman is sticking
up for the boss. And in the matter of Monica Lewinsky, Colorado
Governor Roy Romer, who also heads the Democratic National
Committee, has protested that it was wrong to judge the
President before the evidence was in. But with Washington
fascinated by sex and lies, everybody had better be braced for
videotape. Last week Romer, 69, learned that a story scheduled
for the current issue of Insight, a conservative weekly, would
report that he had been caught on camera three years ago in some
more than cordial embraces with a longtime aide.
On Friday, Romer acknowledged a "very affectionate relationship"
with Betty Jane ("B.J.") Thornberry, 51, once his deputy chief
of staff in Denver and now at the D.N.C. Beside him as he
confessed was his wife of 45 years. Beatrice Romer insisted that
Roy had told her about Thornberry "from the beginning" and that
"it has not affected our marriage or our family." Several of
their seven grown children later spoke up to agree.
Insight's editors claim they have obtained "confidential
records," along with photographs and videotapes. Though the
magazine doesn't identify its sources, R.W. Peterson, a Denver
private detective, took credit for the video. According to the
magazine, a scene taped on July 22, 1995, shows Romer greeting
Thornberry, a divorce, at a Washington-area airport: they kiss
and embrace in his car. On another occasion the camera catches
them kissing in the woods outside a Virginia restaurant. The
magazine says they later went to a house in Washington and were
not seen leaving until the next morning.
Romer strongly denied the first rumors of the affair in 1990.
Last week his language was more Clintonesque. "There are
problems of relationship that arise in most American families,"
he said. "[The connection to Thornberry] is not a sexual
relationship, as people know it, but it is a very affectionate
relationship. Affair is a word you have to interpret."
Democrats speculate that the surveillance may have been financed
at the time by political enemies trying to scare Romer off from
a Senate run. For now, even if Romer wanted to resign as D.N.C.
chairman, it would be tricky politically. People might ask, If
Romer had to quit because of a sex scandal, why shouldn't
--By Richard Lacayo. Reported by John F. Dickerson/Washington and Richard Woodbury/Denver