Elizabeth Ray (born Betty Lou Ray on May 14, 1943, in Marshall, North Carolina ) was the central figure in a much publicized sex scandal in 1976 that ended the career of U.S. Rep. Wayne Hays (D-Ohio).
The Washington Post reported that Ray had been on the payroll of a committee run by Hays for two years as a clerk-secretary. During that time, she admitted, her actual job duties were providing Congressman Hays sexual favors: "I can't type, I can't file, I can't even answer the phone." Ray, who had won the title of Miss Virginia 1975 in a beauty contest, says she worked briefly as a stewardess, waitress and car rental clerk before beginning work on the Hill in the summer of 1972. Ray also admitted having sex with married Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) at his houseboat in August 1972. According to Ray, the meeting was arranged by her then boss Rep. Kenneth J. Gray (D-Illinois) in exchange for Gravel's support of a bill Gray was pushing. Both Gravel and Gray denied the accusations and a federal investigation ended with no charges being filed. Decades later, Gravel admitted having sex with Ray, but continued to maintain that it was not in exchange for his vote.
After making unsuccessful attempts at being an actress and stand-up comedian, Elizabeth Ray faded back into obscurity.
After the scandal broke, a book appeared in her name, titled The Washington Fringe Benefit; she posed for Playboy several times, and tried acting and stand-up comedy.
She was mentioned by comedian Brad Garrett on the May 6, 2015 episode of The Howard Stern Show. Garrett stated that his father arranged a meeting with her when he was 14 and they actually dated for a month. She was 24 according to Garrett, but was unaware of his age because he was very tall and "looked 20." She was his first sexual experience.
- Brainy History
- Clark, Marion; Maxa, Rudy (May 23, 1976). "Closed Session Romance on the Hill". Washington Post. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
- Crewdson, John M. (1976-06-12). "U.S. Studies Charge Of Sex-for-Vote Bid". The New York Times.
- "Miss Ray Said to Link Tryst to Building Project". The New York Times. Associated Press. 1976-06-13.
- Oelsner, Lesley (1976-06-14). "Rep. Howe Held on Sex Charge in Utah; Gravel Denies Sex on Boat With Miss Ray". The New York Times.
- Steven Rattner (1978-05-08). "Now Washington Wants Its Station Back". The New York Times.
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