Portland Mayor Sam Adams Slept With an 18-Year-Old Intern. Scandal?


Earlier this month, in a feature on Portland’s new openly gay mayor Sam Adams, we called the newly elected politico “a handsome do-gooder gay politician who wins over the citizens of his city by riding his bike to work, keeping citizens abreast of what he’s doing via blog and campaigning by standing on street corners holding a sign that reads ‘Honk for the Wonk’ after his opponent accused him of being to policy-driven.” That was before he acknowledged that prior to becoming Mayor Sam Adams, then-City Commissioner Sam Adams was romancing a newly legal intern.

Adams has spent the past year and a half denying allegations he and a one Beau Breedlove had a sexual relationship. But now, he’s out of the closet with the truth, saying in a statement, “I lied at the time because I was afraid that people would believe untrue rumors being circulated by an undeclared mayoral opponent that I had broken a law involving sexual relations with a minor. But this is not a good excuse.” (He also publicly apologized to Breedlove for making him lie about their relationship.)

And he had a right to be worried: When Adams met Breedlove in April 2005, the young intern was just 17 (he’s now 21). Adams insists their relationship began only after Breedlove was legal.

Watch local Portland coverage of the scandal:

As “anti-liberal” sites like NewsBusters push to blow this story into a bigger scandal, it begs the question: Is Adams’ relationship with Breedlove even news? Or a scandal? If Breedlove was indeed 18 at the time, it this just a case of “older gent-younger fella” romance, or a violation of an ethical standard we hold our politicians to? And before you reach your conclusion, ask yourself whether you’re treating Adams any differently because he’s gay.

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  • Ed

    The superficial me looks at Beau’s picture on Towleroad and says “Who could have resisted? Wow!”
    But even if we go ahead and believe Adams about the 18 thing, the question is still was it sexual harassment, did Adams have the complex ‘power in the workplace’ over Beau. If he did, it’s wrong, and we all know it. Yeah, Adams is human, but the law is pretty clear on this.

  • patrick

    The intern was 18 years old, so nothing illegal happened. I believe the mayor is also single, since none of us can actually marry, so no one was cheated on. Its just a little unethical to mess around with someone how works under you. Another thing, Beau Breedlove, could that name be the best porn name of all time?

  • ChicagoJimmy

    Gotta agree with Ed here. Beau is a hottie!

    Anyway, as someone who has managed people for a long time, this would be sexual harassment. Come on, the guy wasn’t just a subordinate, but an intern. Not sure if a particular law was broken, but this would certainly fall below my ethical threshold.

  • hells kitchen guy

    In my early 50s, I had a fling with a 19-year-old. We still see each other every once in a while. He’s now 22. He recently told me I taught him a lot about safe sex (it’s OK to have sex w/poz guys) & partying and gay life and responsibility. The younger-older male bonding was highly respected in ancient cultures. And 18 is NOT a child; he’s a grown man.

  • dizzyspins

    I think a lot of posters are cutting Adams too much slack because he’s gay. If he was a straight conservative politician who had an affair with an 18-year-old female intern, you’d be all over him. Whether or not the relationship was consentual (which I assume it was), its wrong to sleep with someone who reports directly to you. (And waiting till someone is legal to sleep with them is a little skeevy.)

    Should Adams be removed from office for it? Probably not, especially since the whole thing is in the past. But it might hurt his chances at re-election.

  • alan brickman

    Larry Craig still has his job….

  • Tyler

    If an intern reports to their mayor, they should not be in a relationship with them. However, it’s not illegal, it’s just unethical for their job. All that aside, HOT COUPLE.

  • Brent

    here;s the 411 on this….

    There’s more to it that the sex thing, alot of lies were floated…and then some political positions may have been granted to quiet this…it’s just sad for Portland, and gay politics…

  • rsquared

    There is nothing unlawful about hooking up with someone who you supervise at work. The two types of actionable sexual harassment/discrimination are “quid pro quo” (give me sex and you can keep your job) and “sexual harassment” (ongoing offensive acts directed toward a person resulting in actual injury). Neither appear to be the case here. Let’s be clear – the posters, above, who think it’s “wrong” or “unethical” are merely expressing their personal views. The fact the the mayor lied to his constituents is an issue he may be judged upon by those constituents. Also, keeping things in perspective, what it a then newly singly Gavin Newsom (SF Mayor) dated an 18 year-old attractive female intern? Juicy but not scandalous or illegal (although perhaps “wrong” and “unethical” to some).

  • Mad John

    I live in Portland. I’m extremely pissed. He lied to our faces for 16 months about this. And he’s handed another huge club to the bigots who say gays can’t be trusted around kids. Those of us without his power and privilege will pay for that.

    The largest U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor – and now this.

    I’m almost as distressed that, like the Republicans with Bush, some people will defend any depravity committed by their own team.

    Dizzyspins is right. Lot of hypocrites out this morning.

  • PearlsBeforeSwine

    So it has gone from “I did not have sex with that intern” to “I did not have sex with that intern until they were 18”.

    And if they just exchanged bj’s would it not be sex at all?

  • Stephon Marbury

    from the Oregonian comment thread on the scandal:

    “In Portland, you only have to be 18 to have a Sam Adams.”

  • Eminent Victorian

    Maybe not illegal, but it’s all tacky as hell. And he admits that he lied. Pathetic.

  • alan brickman

    Mark Merkle was 39 years old and dating a 17 year old beau…hmmm …. older gay scorned??

  • JJ Gildersneeze

    Your story leaves out some inconvenient facts.

    When this story broke, Sam made a series of self-righteous public denials and went on the attack against the political rival who raised a concern about it. (By the way, that person is also a gay man.) That rivals’ political career was ruined after Sam and his cronies publicly smeared him as a liar –which we now know wasn’t the case.

    He claimed that he was merely reaching out to a confused young man to give him “advice and perspective on coming to terms with being gay.” We now know that he and his political consultant had several meetings with this young man in which they coached him to lie to the press. The young man seems to have had a pretty good perspective, until Sam got to him.

    We also know now that Sam gave a job to a reporter who had been pursuing the story. She’s a 26-year old reporter who suddenly got a $55K job as a “Sustainability and Strategic Planning Advisor,” which even she admitted she had no background in.

    Sam’s behaved despicably here, and he’s used the gay community to deflect criticism. He claims to have had to lie in order to avoid homophobic prejudices against gay men. We now know that he was reinforcing those stereotypes and using homophobia as an excuse to perpetuate his own political career.

    This whole thing stinks, and not because he’s gay or because he had sex with someone who was 18. Sam betrayed the gay community and needs to resign.


  • Larry

    Hmmm… I think that as long as Beau Breedlove (who can have a name like that and be straight?) wasn’t using the relationship to get his position as an intern or move up through the hierarchy, then it shouldn’t be a problem. Any relationship between a boss and employee could be an issue, whether in the private or public sector, but it’s consensual, so I don’t see why there would be an issue. I would say the same thing if it was a Republican man and an 18yo female intern.

    On the other hand, if Adams or the hypothetical Republican were criticizing this sort of thing while having these types of relationships in the background, then it would be a clear case of hypocrisy.

  • Larry

    I just read the post directly above mine, and I stand corrected.

    Still, it says a lot about American society that people should have to lie about this kind of thing in the first place. Meanwhile, the president of France was single when he entered office.

    It’s unbelievable that we’re such a puritanical society that voters will care more about your sex life than about your actual managerial skills, convinced that what you do in your bedroom is the determining factor in whether you can be a decent leader.

    Just think in terms of contrast: Bill Clinton had an affair with an intern, yet whatever your opinion about his policies, he was an effective leader; George Bush, on the other hand, was completely faithful to his wife (at least as far as we know), yet he was quite possibly one of the worst presidents this country has ever had.

  • boho

    Pathetic…it’s time to resign Sam.

  • Buddy

    Illegal? No, not if the affair started once he was truly 18, though after 18 months of lies how can anyone accept that at face value? Unethical? You betcha. Inappropriate? D-uh!

    Then tack on lying, deceit, and the possible misuse of power (hiring the reporter to bury the story, if true).

    In one way it’s like Clinton, but in another it’s like Nixon. Nixon’s crime wasn’t the Watergate break-in, it was the cover-up and misuse of power that got him.

  • sparkle obama

    oh my gosh, throw the rascal out.
    he should never have attempted to cover up his mistake.
    we gays need to reign in our “pride”.
    at a certain level, it does become a sin…
    while we continue to demand our equal rights, we need to address the unequal privilege and abuse of same that often defines our communities at the highest level….
    let me quit – no one’s trying to hear that, i realize.
    let’s move to the country & become 70s communists!

  • Smartypants

    It’s questionable if the sexual relationship began before or after Breedlove turned 18.

    Regardless of whether or not they had sex when Breedlove was a minor, Adams lied repeatedly about the relationship. He engaged others, wittingly or unwittingly, to help derail the investigation. He gave a well-paying public job to one of the reporters who broke the story.

    Breaking trust with the people who elected him and creating the appearance of a quid pro quo with the reporter demonstrate staggeringly bad judgment. While this does not disqualify Adams from office, it certainly raises legitimate questions about his fitness — questions Portland voters should have had the opportunity to weigh when deciding who to elect as their Mayor. Adams craven behavior robbed them of that opportunity and saddled them with a seriously damaged leader for the next four years.

  • petted

    My understanding was Beau was a legislative intern – not saying there aren’t a number of problems with what went on but it doesn’t sound like Adams initiated the relationship, though certainly he didn’t inhibit it either.

  • dannown

    While it is tacky to sleep with the 24-years-younger-than-you hot intern and lie about it later, it is classy and manly to step up and unequivocally apologize for your transgression.

  • Jaroslaw

    Would all the goody goodies please RE read Larry’s post! I completely agree – If we didn’t live in a puritanical sex obsessed society, Sam Adams wouldn’t have to lie at all. I can surely see why he did.

    As to the idiot above “Gays can’t be trusted around children” please! Read up on pedophilia; the gross numbers AND percentages based on respective populations STILL show most pedophiles are straight. But that isn’t even what happened here. 17 or almost 18 Beau is not a “child.” You can drive a car at 16! Unless there is evidence Sam Adams is completely devoid of “morals” one can safely assume he didn’t have to coerce Beau (if he did, that is another story which I would disapprove of) and let’s not forget the other poster who said older/younger man relationships do have a long history.

    Hate to sound like a broken record, but I wish all this moral outrage energy could be directed at something that truly affects people’s lives, like stopping war, poverty, famine, disease, homelessness.

  • Chris

    Yes, Beau was an intern in the Oregon Legislature, not the Adam’s intern, so there is no conflict there and no hand wringing about sexual harassment is necessary. It might be up for debate whether the affair began before he was 18, but that’s just speculation; and the propriety of the relationship is debatable as well. What isn’t in dispute is that Adams lied about it, and that is a political issue for the citizens of Portland to decide.

  • Cath

    Breedlove was 18. The accusation was that he was ‘having sex with a minor.’ He didn’t have sex with a minor. I think the point here is…it isn’t illegal to have sex with someone younger than you. Did he make a mistake to lie about it? Yeah, I guess. But maybe his better answer, when asked originally, would have been…”None of your business! I am a single man and will do what I want in my private life.” It wasn’t any of our business really. It doesn’t become our business unless he was doing something illegal. So many people are missing the point here…he shouldn’t have had to answer that question at all! He shouldn’t have had to feel the need to lie about it! He should be able to say, “None of your business! And what does that have to do with me leading this city?” But the sad part is…he can’t say that because we, the public, always seem to think that it is our business! As for comparing it to Clinton’s indiscretion….Clinton was married, therefore his answer and explanation was the business of his wife Hillary. AGAIN, again, it wasn’t our business.

    Perhaps if we the people could stay out of the private lives of those in office then they wouldn’t feel the need to protect themselves and lie to us about things that they feel will destroy their political careers. Seriously, get a life people. Same Adams is going to be a great mayor. Let the man move on from this and focus on what we elected him to do.

  • melissa

    i am not gay so maybe i shouldn’t say anything here, but i just am in shock over the whole thing.

    seriously does nobody remember the blue dress? despite monica and flowers clinton was a good president.

    being lied to stinks, but if we thought adams was good for portland before we knew he dated a younger man and blah blah blah he is most likely still good for portland. that hasn’t changed.

    he is a politician. they have to lie because we expect them to be perfect in an imperfect world.

  • dhughes609

    @patrick: Are you sure Sam was on top?

  • John Thomas

    Sleeping with a subordinate half your age is never OK, ever.

    Lying about it to get elected and buying off a newspaper reporter to cover it up is even less OK.

    I think gay professionals everywhere should be calling for Adams’ head on a pike.

  • Eminent Victorian

    @Cath: You seem to think his willingness to lie isn’t any sort of indication of his trustworthiness. That’s a shame, isn’t it?

  • [email protected]

    @patrick: Dear Patrick: I apologize for reposting your comment on BoJack and used your insight without giving you credit. Dave

  • Brian Miller

    This story underpins the dangers of embracing a politician just because he’s gay.

    There’s nothing preventing queer politicians from being the lying, cheating, mendacious, sleazy, gross-outs that generations of straight politicians have already shown the profession to attract.

    Making out politicians automatically into heroes by simple virtue of their orientation is a mistake. Make heroes out of openly gay people OF CHARACTER. This Adams guy clearly has none.

  • Larry

    @Cath: He could have said “None of your business,” but the Catch-22 is that “None of your business” is just another way of saying “Yes.”

    The question of whether he was having sex with a legal adult should never have been asked in the first place, not by Bob Ball and not by anyone from the media.

    His two-month fling with Breedlove would only have been relevant and newsworthy if:

    1) Breedlove was underage
    2) Adams had sex with Breedlove in exchange for giving him an internship or a promotion
    3) Adams was paying Breedlove for sex
    4) Adams had a history of speaking out against this kind of behavior

  • Arrogant Bastard Ale

    I thought you had to be 21 to drink in Oregon, this kid turns 18 and first thing he is sucking down a Sam Adams?

  • Alfredo Munoz

    Adams was very wrong by acting irresponsibly and impulsively.He then tried to cover his poor judgement to sustain political bouyancy.He knew what he did was wrong(chickenhawker and consumate liar) and was aware he would eventually be discovered.I am assuming that although this man is gay his actions certainly demonstrate that he must be a member in good standing of the Republican party.

  • hells kitchen guy

    “And he’s handed another huge club to the bigots who say gays can’t be trusted around kids.”

    Breedlove was old enough to drive, fight in the Army, vote and drink booze. He was not a “kid.”

  • Ron A

    While Sam was campaigning for mayor last year, he pulled out the hate crime card against his accuser saying “This is one of the worst smears you can make on a gay guy. It preys upon homophobic stereotypes that gay men cannot be trusted with young people”

    He lied to the people of Portland and the City Council about this so he could get elected.

    Then Sam asked the intern to also lie about the relationship, which he did.

    He gives a woman reporter investigating his actions a 55K / yr job at The City – a position she has no experience performing. Sounds like hush money kind of job.

    Not a good start for Sam. He’ll have to resign.


  • Paul

    As much as I love having an openly gay man in office and in such a large city, we as a community need to step up and force his hand and have his resignation delivered promptly.

  • Seth

    All politicians lie. You as presumed journalists should know this, if you weren’t so damn busy ogling the goods.

  • Mike K

    I can never drink his beer again.

  • Jesse

    The response to all non-political questions should be ” That question is innapropriate and will not be addressed now or in the future”.

  • Cath

    @Eminent Victorian: We need to allow our public officials to be human AND we need to clearly understand what IS and IS NOT our business. I don’t care what adult he slept with, he will be a good mayor. I would suggest that you ask yourself the question…had he answered the question truthfully would he be mayor right now? I think we all know the answer is NO. What is sad to me is…that a man has to lie about something that is NOT our business to protect his career. The question should have never been asked.

  • Cath

    @Larry: Exactly Larry, I am in full agreement. Thank you for stating that so clearly.

  • Not his boss!

    People, please! Breedlove was an intern, but NOT FOR SAM ADAMS! They lived in two different cities. Beau was an intern for the STATE LEGISLATURE in SALEM, Sam was a CITY COMMISSIONER in PORTLAND.


    Its sad that the story was so poorly reported that none of you even know whats going on.

    Sam shouldn’t resign. The Puritannical America searching for an excuse to be homophobic needs to get over themselves.

  • rus

    so, now we are digging in people’s personal stuff to prove that gay men are bad… ok, yeah, it’s disgusting what men do… i know MANY who are dating folks 20, 25 yrs younger than themselves, even having babies with them, famous, not famous…

    so, he’s gross like many others… does that mean he is a bad mayor?

    what paradigm are we trying to live in?

  • Doug

    Of course I’m treating him differently because he’s gay. He’s being treated differently by these reporters because he’s gay. The older person/younger person construct is much more prevalent in the gay male community — sometimes it works out as a decades-long, love-of-their-lives situation and sometimes it doesn’t.

    Sam Adams made the mistake of lying and trying to cover up the lie — and now he’s coming clean. As I watched his press conference yesterday, I was torn — I don’t know his situation well enough to take him at his word, but I think I will do that. What I was struck by more than the responses Sam gave were the Bob Woodward wanna-bes pummeling him with questions. They don’t care whether they have a good man as mayor or destroy a good man’s career — they just want a juicy story with their byline. I hope the Weekly World News scoops them up and gives them the careers they deserve.

  • Alfredo Munoz

    Check out the dude’s portrait.All corners sharply pressed with that insecure narcissism that states I’m special and not guilty of anything.You can see the tangential flash of his pupils surreptitiously monitoring the perimeter to detect the slightest reproof for his postured image.This twit begs accountability.It is up to the gay community to have the courage to take him to task for his foibles.

  • Richard J. Daley

    I believe Mayor Blagojevich should stay in office.

  • matthieu

    It is my oppinion to express I think this is horrible and is ungodly!! The good state of oregon founded on the backs of our god loving relatives, they would be so ashamed… and we should be ashamed for condoning this, a gay mayor who has almost broken the law because the youth involved says!! that there was no sexual content between them before his 18th birthday, I find this very hard to believe, it is the act itself that resonates within our minds and 18 or not he is still a child and what the heck is this old man doing with a child?? I have no shame in calling mayor sam adams a pedophile!! and believe he should be stripped of his title, Immediatly!!

  • Ron X McKernan

    He’s a politician, gay or not, did you really think he was some sort of perfect human being, devoid of flaw or fault??? Can any of us consider ourselves “moral” enough to judge this man about a situation that has no bearing on his ability to fulfill his duties as Mayor of Portland. Furthermore, is his situation really something that none of us couldn’t easily find ourselves in, although had we had this experience in our past it wouldn’t matter one bit, and we would never be forced to answer for it, unless, of course, we ran for a public office. This is why NO decent person will run for office anymore, the level of scrutiny waged upon their lives is far too great for them and their families to bear.

  • Yarnold

    Pffffthahahahah faggots xD
    You all like it up the ass :3

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