02.15.12

Kate Upton’s Congressman Uncle and More Scandalous Political Ties

Rep. Fred Upton, the Sports Illustrated cover girl’s Republican uncle, might get some flak for his niece’s provocative poses, but he’s in good company. From Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter Alice to Sarah Palin’s enfant terrible Bristol, more slightly scandalous political relatives.

Kate Upton, the cover girl on this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, first attracted notice after a video of her doing the “Dougie dance” went viral on YouTube. But the buxom blond model, 19, has a claim to fame that has nothing to do with dance moves, let alone bikinis. Her uncle, Fred Upton, is the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and briefly became a conservative hate-figure after his effort to ban incandescent light bulbs in the name of energy efficiency became a cause célèbre on the right. Considering the recent frenzy over immodest dress among attendees at CPAC, the fact that his niece has been photographed in body paint might draw some ire. But should Representative Upton be plagued by his niece’s provocative poses, he’ll be in good company.

Theodore Roosevelt was long plagued by the misadventures of his daughter Alice. She was “the wild child” of her era. President Roosevelt once famously claimed that “I can either run the country or I can control Alice. I cannot do both.” He chose the country and let Alice flout contemporary morals, carousing and smoking in public. Although she eventually settled down and married future House speaker Nicholas Longworth, they had what one of Longworth’s successors would refer to as an open marriage. He chased women across Washington while she had a long-running affair and a child with Idaho Sen. William Borah. Alice ended her days as catty doyenne of Washington society, known for the phrase “If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.”

Ronald Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis posed nude in Playboy in 1994. Davis, who dropped her father’s last name in her teens and was a self-described drug addict “from the time I was 15 well into my 20s,” caused endless mischief for her father. Her rebellion against her father even extended into politics, and Davis has vocally supported Democrats and a wide array of liberal causes. Although she waited to pose nude until her father retired from politics, she still worked hard to earn her reputation as “the rebellious first daughter.”

Before Ben Quayle’s election to Congress in 2010, he was better known as the son of Vice President Dan Quayle. However, in the course of his Arizona congressional campaign, it came out that Ben Quayle was a frequent poster on a site called “Dirty Scottsdale.” He used his postings on this site to chronicle his quest for “the hottest girl in Scottsdale.” Of course, he used a pseudonym, “Brock Landers,” the name of the lead character in a fictional pornographic film depicted in the 1997 movie Boogie Nights. After initial denials, Quayle was eventually forced to fess up to composing the salacious posts.

Rick Santorum may be the devoutly Catholic candidate of family values, but his wife, Karen, was once the live-in girlfriend of an ob-gyn, Tom Allen, who performed abortions and was 40 years her senior. Not only did Allen perform abortions, he was also the obstetrician who delivered Karen Santorum. While there’s nothing wrong with a May-December love affair, the relationship isn’t even close to being on message for a candidate currently running as the true social conservative in the GOP primary.

Quayle used the name of the lead character in a fictional pornographic film depicted in the 1997 movie Boogie Nights.

And who could forget the family drama of Sarah Palin and her daughter Bristol? The then-teenage Bristol’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy was announced just after her mother sprang onto the world stage as John McCain’s vice-presidential nominee in 2008. Since then Bristol’s on-again, off-again romance with Levi Johnston has provided yet more tabloid fodder. Although she has yet to pose nude, she has appeared on Dancing With the Stars and already published a tell-all memoir at the tender age of 21.