John Jenrette
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John Jenrette
John Jenrette
John Jenrette.png
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 6th district

January 3, 1975 - December 10, 1980
Edward Lunn Young
John Light Napier
Member of the
South Carolina House of Representatives
from Horry County

At-large district
District abolished
City Attorney of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

William E. Cameron
Mark C. Garner
Judge of the Myrtle Beach Municipal Court

Personal details
John Wilson Jenrette Jr.

(1936-05-19) May 19, 1936 (age 84)
Conway, South Carolina, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 1976; div. 1981)
Alma materWofford College (B.A.)
University of South Carolina (LL.B.)
ProfessionLawyer, politician

John Wilson Jenrette Jr. (born May 19, 1936) is an American former politician from South Carolina, best known for his involvement in the ABSCAM corruption scandal, and being the husband of Playboy model Rita Jenrette. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from January 1975 until December 1980. He was convicted of accepting a bribe in the FBI's Abscam operation.


Jenrette was born in Conway, South Carolina in 1936 and grew up in Loris, South Carolina.[1] He graduated from Loris High School, in 1954. He then earned a B.A. at Wofford College in 1958. After graduating from law school at the University of South Carolina, worked as a city attorney, then a judge, as he attempted to reach higher office.

South Carolina House of Representatives

Jenrette was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1964, where he represented his native town of Myrtle Beach. He retired from the state house to run for a seat in the U.S. House in 1972.

U.S. House of Representatives

Jenrette defeated seventeen-term Congressman John L. McMillan in the primary, but lost the general election to Republican Edward Lunn Young. Undaunted, Jenrette again ran for the same seat in 1974. In part because of the extreme unpopularity of Republican Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal, Jenrette won.

Jenrette, a liberal, seemed out of place representing his rather conservative waterfront congressional district. However, he was locally well-known, and the South Carolina Republican Party was not especially well-organized at the time in that part of the state. Jenrette easily defeated Young again in 1976 and was unopposed in 1978.

Jenrette is most famous for two things during his days as a Congressman. First, he allegedly[2] had sex with his then-wife, Rita Jenrette, behind a pillar on the steps of the Capitol Building during a break in a late night session of Congress. (The comedy group "Capitol Steps" take their name from this escapade.)


Second, he was charged with and convicted of accepting a $50,000 bribe in the FBI sting operation known as Abscam which was conducted in 1980. He was recorded saying he had been given a cash bribe by an associate.[3][4] Jenrette was sentenced to two years in prison, of which he served 13 months.[5]

His wife, Rita, separated from him in January 1981 and the two divorced later the same year.

Jenrette was defeated for reelection in 1980 and resigned from Congress on December 10, just days before the end of his term. He subsequently ran a public-relations firm called Lehuguenot, Ltd.,[6] in his native Myrtle Beach, and developed property in nearby Cherry Grove.


In 1989 he was apprehended after shoplifting a necktie from a department store in Bailey's Crossroads, Virginia; convicted of a misdemeanor, he was sentenced to serve 30 days in a local jail.[7]

In 2017, the book "Capitol Steps and Missteps: The Wild, Improbable Ride of Congressman John Jenrette" was published. It was written by two of Jenrette's former aides. While promoting the book, Jenrette described his years since Congress as including "marketing an experimental balloon-operated flotation device; running (and then folding) a national chain of timeshares; breeding horses in Bulgaria; and selling cigarettes in Eastern Europe immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union."[8]

See also


  1. ^ Burbage, John M. (September 2, 2017). "Ex-congressional aides take a new look at John Jenrette". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ Roberts, Roxanne (28 November 2011), "Rita Jenrette's new take on an old sex scandal: That night on the Capitol steps", The Washington Post, retrieved 2013
  3. ^ [1] | December 10, 1983 | EX-REP. JENRETTE GETS TWO YEARS IN ABSCAM CASE | UPI | [2]
  4. ^ [3] | UPI ARCHIVES | OCT. 7, 1980 | Rep. John Jenrette, D-S.C., an admitted alcoholic who said... | JUDI HASSON | [4]
  6. ^ listing for Lehuguenot, Ltd
  7. ^ Ex-Rep. Jenrette Gets 30-Day Term for Shoplifting, Says He's Broke
  8. ^ [5]

External links


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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