Mary Kay Letourneau's Family Ties To US Politics

In the middle 1990s, a sex crime generated headlines across the United States. Seattle-area elementary school teacher Mary Kay Letourneau was charged with rape after it was discovered that she was having a sexual relationship with a 12-year-old boy, as Insider reported. It turned out that not only were they having sex, but he'd also impregnated her, and she gave birth to a daughter.

Letourneau was sentenced to probation, and that could have been the end of her legal troubles, but she continued to have a sexual relationship with the underage boy, who was later identified as Vili Fualaau, via the Daily Mail. She was sent to prison, and after her 2005 release, she married Vili. The two even wrote a book about their relationship: "Only One Crime, Love."

Though she's the most high-profile person in her family, she is not the only one to have spent time in the public eye. She was born into a family of Republican operatives, and one of her brothers even served in the Donald Trump administration.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

A Family Of California Republicans

Mary Katherine Schmitz was born on January 30, 1962, in Orange County, California, into wealth and privilege, according to Biography. Her father, college professor John Schmitz, and her mother, Mary Schmitz, were devout Catholics. Mr. Schmitz made headlines in his corner of Southern California that year when, as the Los Angeles Times reported, he disarmed an assailant who was stabbing a woman (who later died). He became a local hero and, already known for the steadfast anti-communist views he espoused in the classroom, drew the attention of the local conservative political apparatus. Eventually, he wound up holding office, and soon enough, the family was in Washington.

Mary Kay's mother was also politically active, according to truTV. She campaigned against the Equal Rights Amendment, her advocacy earning her the derisive nickname "West Coast Phyllis Schlafly," after the Evangelical Christian woman who also famously opposed the amendment. Two of her brothers would also go into politics.

Mary Kay herself also had eyes on a career in politics, but her career plans changed when she met Steve Letourneau and got pregnant (via Biography). Instead, the family moved here and there, and eventually, she got her teaching degree, and they wound up in the Seattle suburbs. 

Her Father, John G. Schmitz

As mentioned above, Mary Kay Letourneau's father, John G. Schmitz (pictured above), caught the attention of the Southern California Republican apparatus after disarming a knife-wielding assailant (per the Los Angeles Times). Before holding office, he'd been a Marine Corps instructor known for his fervent anti-communist advocacy. He was also a member of the John Birch Society, a group described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as "the political equivalent of an addled uncle sent down to the basement rec room to drink, rant, and hopefully pass out before saying anything too nutty in front of the guests."

His time in various political offices can best be described as "ultra-conservative." For example, he disagreed with Richard Nixon's visit to China, saying that he had no problem with him going to the communist country — just that he came back. By the early 1980s, he'd made a name for himself by making disparaging remarks about Blacks, Jews, Latinos, and other minorities. He even got expelled from the John Birch Society.

Having established himself as a "family values" conservative, Schmitz's career was damaged by the revelation that he'd been carrying on an extra-marital affair that resulted in two pregnancies. He died of prostate cancer in 2001 at the age of 70, according to the Journal of Historical Review.

Her Mother, Mary Schmitz

Mary Kay's mother, Mary Schmitz, kept the family tradition of steadfast devotion to Catholicism, conservative values (particularly in relation to the home and family), and Republican advocacy. According to truTV, as her husband was working in various elected offices in California and D.C., she was carrying on political advocacy of her own. Specifically, she campaigned against the Equal Rights Amendment in a seemingly odd juxtaposition of a woman campaigning against extending equal rights to women. When the amendment was defeated, Mrs. Schmitz reportedly made a cardboard tombstone for it and put it in her yard.

Outside of her political advocacy, Mrs. Schmitz was a devout Catholic. As the Los Angeles Times notes, when it was discovered that her husband was carrying on an affair and had fathered one child and impregnated his mistress with another, she didn't divorce him in keeping with her Catholic beliefs. And when one of her children, 3-year-old Philip, drowned in the family's pool, Mrs. Schmitz and the rest of the family gathered in the living room to pray. "John or Mary led [the family] in prayers as always, but this time, John tried to get Mary to use her religion to understand what had happened and to forgive him," a family friend told the Los Angeles Times.

Her Brother, Joseph E. Schmitz

Joseph E. Schmitz followed in his father's footsteps and went into the military before embarking on a career in politics. According to The Federalist Society, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978, served in the Navy for a few years, and even served as a liaison officer in the German Navy, as he wrote in an article for the U.S. Naval Institute.

After getting his law degree, Schmitz's career took him here and there, including in both government service and in private practice. From April 2002 to September 2005, he served as the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, for which he received the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. Schmitz was also, briefly, a part of Donald Trump's team. Specifically, between March-November 2016, he served as a foreign policy/national security advisor to the Trump campaign.

As of June 2022, Schmitz is in private practice, working as chief legal officer and chairman of advisory board at Pacem Solutions International & Pacem Defense, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Her Brother, John P. Schmitz

The career of Mary Kay Letourneau's brother John P. Schmitz has been lower-profile than that of his brother Joseph, or his father. He got a law degree and clerked for Antonin Scalia, at the time a Circuit Judge in Washington, D.C., before he went on to be nominated to the Supreme Court, according to National Review. "Justice Antonin Scalia was a great friend of Europe and an expert on European legal traditions," wrote Schmitz, who himself is fluent in German and whose legal career has included multiple accomplishments related to European issues.

On his law firm's website, Schmitz's biographer notes several other achievements, including representing the defense in Stoneridge Investment Partners v. Scientific-Atlanta and Motorola, Inc., a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court (which ruled in the defendants' favor).

"John Schmitz represents U.S. and European companies in complex international transactions and regulatory matters, with a focus on antitrust, media and telecommunications, energy and environmental issues," writes his biographer.