Gary Hart Scandal Tipster Was Broward Woman, New Report Says

In 1987, the Gary Hart scandal uncovered by the Miami Herald obliterated the Democratic frontrunner's run for the White House and changed the way politics is covered forever. For 27 years, it was widely believed that the tipster to Hart's infidelities with model Donna Rice came from a friend of the model's named Lynn Armandt.

But according to a recent New York Times piece, the real tipster is a clothing designer from Broward named Dana Weems.

While the Herald's then-political reporter, Tom Fiedler, has vowed to keep the identity of the tipster a secret, he told the writer of the NY Times piece that the tipster was not Armandt.

In April of '87, Fiedler received a phone call from a woman saying she had information proving that Hart was a womanizer and was cheating on his wife with Rice.

The woman told Fiedler that a friend of hers had seen Hart aboard a yacht at Turnberry Isle near Miami called The Monkey Business. And that on this yacht, the politician was partying with Rice as they sailed to Bimini. The caller also said there was a photo.

When the story broke, it rocked the foundations of both politics and journalism. For years, politicians' private lives were mostly ignored. With Hart exposed, it's become the norm to judge a politician's character by whether he cheats on his wife.

And for years, it was believed the tipster was Armandt.

But, the NY Times says it's uncovered the true tipster. Weems, who hails from Hollywood, was a clothing and costume designer for models, which is how she knew Rice. Weems also apparently knew Armandt, as the women ran in the same circles in the '80s.

The NY Times piece goes on to say that Rice was never able to figure out exactly who tipped off the Herald. But Rice says she believed it was Armandt and Weems working in tandem.

Weems, it turns out, was aboard The Monkey Business at the same time as Rice but got off the yacht before it set sail to Bimini. But days after, Rice told Weems of her affair with Hart and showed her photographs from the cruise.

From the NY Times:

Dana Weems wasn't especially hard to find, it turned out. A clothing designer who did some costume work on movies in the early 1990s, she sold funky raincoats and gowns on a website called Raincoatsetc.com, based in Hollywood, Fla. When she answered the phone after a couple of rings, I told her I was writing about Gary Hart and the events of 1987.

"Oh, my God," she said. There followed a long pause.

"Did you make that call to The Herald?" I asked her.

"Yeah," Weems said with a sigh. "That was me."

The Herald recently tried to contact Weems, who is reportedly in ill health. She confirmed to them that she's the woman the NY Times piece mentions but didn't speak further with them.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph