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A History of Scandal and D.C. Hotels

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We noted earlier today that several D.C. hotels have helped shape the city's and the nation's history. But D.C.'s hotels haven't played host solely to famous speeches, dignified guests and inaugural balls. Several D.C. hotels have gained infamy due to the scandalous events that have occurred here. Don't think that these notorious goings-on are limited to budget motels, either. Even some of D.C.'s most luxurious (and essential) hotels have played host to some low down and dirty deeds. We've compiled a list of these hotels and we promise that not all of them surround the misdeeds of Mayor for Life, Marion Barry.

The Vista Hotel (Now the Westin City Center): This bust didn't stick at the end, but the FBI and Metropolitan Police Department busted Mayor Marion Barry for smoking crack at this hotel. Barry's response to the arrest was of course a pot shot at his girlfriend: "Bitch Set Me Up."

The Hay-Adams: The thing about having incredibly quiet rooms is that nobody knows when the goings-on inside are less than seemly. Fundraiser Carl Channell (who aided Lt. Col. Oliver North in illegally arming Nicaraguan rebels with government funds) held multiple meetings at the Hay-Adams with the purpose of gaining funds for the Iran Contra operation.

Ramada Inn Central (Now the Hotel Helix): 14th Street is a lot cozier in 2013 than it was in 1988 when Marion Barry (yes, again!) bought crack from former D.C. employee Charles Lewis. Lewis was later arrested and after some time in prison, cooperated with the Metropolitan Police Department to assist in the arrest at the Hotel Vista.

Howard Johnson Motor Lodge (Now George Washington University Student Housing): In this case the scandal didn't occur in room 419 (and room 723) of the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge but across the street in the Watergate building. In the summer of 1972, the "Plumbing Unit" used the HoJo to monitor the break-in at the Watergate and listened to the tapped phone line of the Democratic National Convention's headquarters.

Willard Intercontinental: We touched on this earlier, but the reason the term "lobbying" exists today is because Ulysses S. Grant would sit in the hotel's lobby and meet with politicians and influential businessmen to talk policy.

Grand Hyatt: Yet another hotel that features into the Marion Barry crack scandal! This was the spot where in 1988 he beat up his then-girlfriend Hazel Diane "Rasheeda" Moore (the one who "set him up" in the video where he got busted for smoking crack) for refusing to have sex with him.

Washington Hilton: This scandal actually occurred while exiting the hotel and not within its walls. President Ronald Reagan was wounded by a gunshot from a would-be assassin while leaving its grounds.

The Jefferson: Bill Clinton wasn't the only person in his party that had sex scandals in a D.C. hotel. His former adviser (and now Fox News talking head) Dick Morris was discovered sucking the toes of prostitute Sherry Rowlands in Suite 205 right before Clinton received the Democratic nomination. While that's particularly gross, the more scandalous part of that affair was that Morris let Rowlands listen in on private administrative phone calls.

The Mayflower Renaissance Hotel: Man, who hasn't gotten caught red-handed at the Mayflower? When Monica Lewinsky was having her affair with President Bill Clinton, she stayed at the Mayflower. JFK's supposed mistress Judith Campbell Exner spent a lot of time at the Mayflower and of course, let's not forget that former governor Eliot Spitzer's night with a $1,000 an hour prostitute happened at the Mayflower. Oh yeah, and Marion Barry's only crack possession charge that stuck happened at the Mayflower.
· The Many Places of Marion Barry - The Fall [DC Like a Local]
· Mayflower Hotel [Wikipedia]
The Watergate Burglaries and HoJo's Room 419 [At Home in the Wasteland]
· The Hay-Adams and the Scandal Revelations [WaPo]
· Destinatinon: Scandal! [WaPo]
· Hotels of famous scandals in Washington, D.C. [Oyster]