|Member of the|
U.S. House of Representatives
September 12, 1989 – January 3, 2003
|Preceded by||Tony Coelho|
|Succeeded by||Dennis Cardoza|
|Constituency||15th district (1989–93)|
18th district (1993–2003)
Gary Adrian Condit
April 21, 1948
Salina, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Education||Modesto Junior College (AA)|
California State University, Stanislaus (BA)
Gary Adrian Condit (born April 21, 1948) is a former politician and a Democrat who represented parts of California's Central Valley in the House of Representatives from 1989 to 2003. He gained significant national attention for an extramarital affair with intern Chandra Levy, which was exposed after Levy's disappearance in May 2001.
Condit lost the 2002 Democratic primary based in large part on negative publicity from the scandal.
Condit was born in Salina, Oklahoma on April 21, 1948, the son of Velma Jean (Tidwell) Condit (1929–2017) and Adrian Burl Condit, a Baptist minister. He was raised and educated in Oklahoma, and graduated from Tulsa's Nathan Hale High School. During the summers of his high school years, Condit worked as a roustabout in Oklahoma's oil fields. He was 18 in 1967 when he married his high school sweetheart Carolyn Berry. An investigation by journalists in 2001 revealed that Condit provided the wrong birth date for his marriage license. At the time, Oklahoma required males under age 21 to have parental consent to marry; by claiming to have been born in 1942 rather than 1948, Condit appeared to be older than 18.
In 1967, Condit's father became pastor of a church in Ceres, California, and the Condit family relocated to California. Condit began attendance at Modesto Junior College, and received an associate of arts degree in 1970. In 1972, he received a bachelor of science degree from California State University, Stanislaus.
While attending college and at the start of his career, Condit worked at a variety of jobs, including one at a tomato cannery, one at a factory that made munitions during the Vietnam War, and in the paint department of a Montgomery Ward department store.
Condit began his career on the city council of Ceres, California; near Modesto, from 1972 to 1976—the last two years as mayor. He served on the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors from 1976 to 1982, and was elected to the California State Assembly in 1982.
California State Assembly
In 1988, Condit was a member of the "Gang of Five" – with Charles M. Calderon of Whittier, Gerald R. Eaves of Rialto, Rusty Areias of Los Banos and Steve Peace of Chula Vista – that failed to unseat Willie Brown as Speaker of the California State Assembly, by making a deal with Republicans. Peace co-wrote and produced the 1988 film Return of the Killer Tomatoes, in which Condit appeared in an uncredited, nonspeaking cameo during a fight sequence.
U.S. House of Representatives
Condit was elected to Congress in 1989 in a special election, after House Democratic Whip Tony Coelho resigned. He was elected to a full term in 1990, and reelected five more times without serious difficulty (Condit had no Republican challenger during the general elections of 1992 and 1998). His most important committee assignment was as a senior member on the House Intelligence Committee in the months and years prior to the September 11 attacks. Like most Democrats from the Central Valley, Condit was somewhat more conservative than other Democrats from California. A Blue Dog Democrat, Condit voted against President Bill Clinton more frequently than all Congressional Democrats.
In 1998, during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Condit publicly demanded that Clinton "come clean" on his relationship with the young woman; a video of this demand was aired almost daily during Condit's own scandal involving a relationship with intern Chandra Levy. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, interest in the Levy case declined. Condit kept his seat on the Intelligence Committee, retained his security clearance, and was one of a small number of members of Congress who were cleared to see the most sensitive information on the 9/11 attacks.
On December 7, 2001, Condit announced he would run for re-election. He lost the Democratic primary election in March 2002 to his former aide, then-Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza, and left Congress at the end of his term in January 2003. Condit's most notable vote in his last months in office was the resolution to expel Congressman James Traficant after his conviction on corruption charges. In the 420–1 vote on July 24, 2002, Condit was the sole "nay".
In 2001, Condit became the subject of international news coverage after the disappearance of Chandra Levy, a young woman working as a Washington, D.C. intern, originally from Condit's district. Police questioned Condit twice, and both times he denied having an affair with her; however, Levy's aunt eventually went public with conversations she had with her about their relationship. Police questioned Condit a third time, and he confessed to the relationship. When the affair began, Condit was 53 and Levy was 23.
While Condit was not named as an official suspect in the disappearance, Levy's family suspected that Condit was withholding important information about her disappearance. Public interest was high, and Condit's reputation suffered from the contrast between his "pro-family" politics, adultery with a woman younger than his daughter, and his attempts to mislead the police regarding his relationship with her. In July, two months after Levy vanished, Condit agreed to let investigators search his apartment and, hours before the search, police said he was spotted throwing a gift box he had received from another woman into a dumpster in one of Washington's Virginia suburbs. This followed news reports that Condit had had an affair with a flight attendant. Because of the Levy scandal, Condit was portrayed on an episode of South Park, where he was considered responsible for the disappearance of Chandra Levy.
Levy's remains were not found during the extensive search that followed her disappearance, but were discovered accidentally May 22, 2002 in a secluded area of Rock Creek Park in Washington D.C.; the death was declared a homicide.
Condit sued Vanity Fair writer Dominick Dunne in late 2002 for $11 million, claiming that Dunne defamed him by suggesting he ordered Levy killed in 2001. Condit's attorney said that the libel lawsuit was based on comments Dunne repeated on national radio and television programs in December 2001, where he suggested Condit frequented Middle Eastern embassies for sexual activity with prostitutes and, during those times, he made it clear that he wanted someone to get rid of Levy. Condit's attorney said that Dunne's comments "conveyed that Gary Condit was involved in her kidnapping and in her murder, that friends of Gary Condit had her kidnapped, put in an airplane and dropped in the Atlantic Ocean." Dunne paid an undisclosed amount to settle that lawsuit in March 2005. Dunne said he had been "completely hoodwinked" by an unreliable informant. Subsequently, Condit sued Dunne again, charging him with "revivifying" the slander in an appearance on Larry King Live in November 2005. In July 2008 a federal judge dismissed the second lawsuit filed against Dunne.
In July 2006, Condit sued the Sonoran News, a free weekly circular, for defamation of character, after the publication wrote "that Condit was the 'main focus in the Chandra Levy case in 2001, after lying to investigators about his affair with Levy.'" The case was dismissed in July 2007 when the judge ruled that Condit had not proved the statement was false, or that the paper had published it with malice.
In March 2009, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Ingmar Guandique, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador who had already been convicted and imprisoned for two other attacks on women in Rock Creek Park. He was subsequently indicted for Levy's murder. On November 22, 2010, Guandique was found guilty of first-degree murder, and was sentenced in February 2011 to 60 years in prison. Condit's lawyer Bert Fields said, "It's a complete vindication but that comes a little late. Who gives him his career back?"
However, on June 4, 2015, D.C. Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher granted a motion for the retrial of Guandique after it was revealed that the sole witness against him, a jailhouse informant named Armando Morales, had lied about prior jailhouse testimony. Prosecutors dropped all charges against Guandique on July 28, 2016 after an associate of Morales came forward with secret recordings in which he admitted to falsifying testimony about the murder of Chandra Levy. The murder of Chandra Levy therefore remains unsolved.
After his departure from office, Condit moved to Arizona where he operated two Baskin-Robbins ice cream stores with his wife and son. When the franchise failed, Condit was ordered to pay the company $98,000 in a breach of contract proceeding. In 2012, he was reported to be serving as president of the Phoenix Institute of Desert Agriculture, which listed its status as 'Dissolved' in the last corporate filing as of June 4, 2015. He is currently a registered lobbyist with the State of California.
In 2012, Condit's son, Chad, announced his intention to run for the House of Representatives as an independent in California's redrawn 10th congressional district. He lost in the top-two election against incumbent Jeff Denham and Democratic challenger Jose Hernandez. Condit has a daughter, Cadee, who was previously married to Assemblyman Adam Gray, formerly a Condit aide.
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- Appearances on C-SPAN
|Preceded by |
John E. Thurman
| Member of the California Assembly |
from the 27th district
|U.S. House of Representatives|
|Preceded by |
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives |
from California's 15th congressional district
|Preceded by |
Richard H. Lehman
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives |
from California's 18th congressional district
|Party political offices|
|New office|| Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition for Administration |
Served alongside: John S. Tanner (Communications), Nathan Deal, Collin Peterson (Policy)
Robert E. Cramer