Gerald Ford Shagged a Spy, and J. Edgar Hoover Used That to Blackmail Him
Gerald Ford (1913 – 2006), was picked by Nixon to serve as his vice president in 1973 after his vice president Spiro Agnew resigned in disgrace because of a corruption scandal. Nine months later, Nixon himself was forced to resign in disgrace because of the Watergate scandal, and Ford automatically replaced him in the Oval Office as America’s 38th president. He was an unremarkable president, and his best-known presidential action was the pardoning of Nixon. Gerald Ford’s name today probably comes up most often as the answer to political Trivial Pursuit questions such as: “who was the only person to serve as vice president and president without having been elected to either office?“; or “who served the shortest term as president without having died in office?”
However, if contemporary reporters had dug into his sex life with the same eagerness today’s reporters devote to the sex lives of politicians, Ford would probably be remembered for a juicy sex scandal, as well. To wit, for having had an affair with Ellen Rometsch, a suspected East German spy. The press did not find out about the affair at the time, but J. Edgar Hoover did, and he used the information to blackmail Ford.
Ellen Rometsch was an East German spy, tasked with befriending powerful American politicians and reporting back. She went to West Germany, where she married a West German air force sergeant, and accompanied him to Washington, DC, when he was assigned there. In DC, she got a job as a hostess at a salon organized by Bobby Baker, an LBJ aide, as a private club for male politicians. Rometsch arranged for hookers and went on dates with some of the members herself.
A stunner who looked like Elizabeth Taylor, Rometsch got Baker to introduce her to then-president John F. Kennedy. JFK being JFK, it was not long before sex ensued. As Baker put it: “She really loved oral sex. … She went the White House several times. And president Kennedy called me and said it’s the best head-job he’d ever had, and he thanked me“.
Rometsch got around, and her sexcapades extended beyond the White House. Another of the seductress’ conquests was Gerald Ford, then a Congressman. After Kennedy was killed, Ford was appointed to the Warren Commission investigating the JFK assassination. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was frustrated with the Warren Commission because it was not sharing its findings with him. However, he had dirt on Ford: his affair with Rometsch. So he used that information to blackmail Ford into sharing the Commission’s findings. As described by a contemporary: “Hoover had this tape where Jerry Ford was having oral sex with Ellen Rometsch. You know, his wife had a serious drug problem back thenâ¦ Hoover blackmailed Ford to tell him what they were doing“.
As to Ellen Rometsch, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy got wind that the FBI was investigating her as a suspected spy, and taking a hard look at her trail of seductions through Washington. To avert a political scandal similar to the then-recent Profumo Affair which had rocked England, RFK arranged for her to be quietly deported back to Germany.