Admitted Wife Beater Tom Carper to Step Down From Senate

Longtime Democratic senator hit his wife in the face, gave her black eye

May 22, 2023

Delaware's longtime Democratic senator Tom Carper, who once hit his now-deceased ex-wife in the face hard enough to give her a black eye, announced on Monday that he will retire from politics next year.

Carper said on Monday it was "time to step aside and pass the torch to the next generation." That means Carper's name will be absent from the Senate ballot for the first time since 1999, just one year after he admitted to a local journalist that he abused his first wife.

"Did I slap my wife 20 years ago? Yes," Carper said in the 1998 interview, which was later unearthed by the Washington Free Beacon. "Do I regret it? Yes. Would I do it again? No."

Carper managed to sweep the incident under the rug during his decades-long political career, insisting that allegations of abuse against his first wife, Diane Carper, were "without basis in fact." Carper began clashing with the press over abuse allegations almost immediately after he launched his first congressional campaign in 1982, at the urging of then-senator Joe Biden. Carper threatened to sue to the New York Post in 1982 for reporting on the allegation, calling it a "vicious" attempt to "smear" him.

There was a significant amount of evidence that Carper had hit his wife, including a 1981 court deposition in which he said he "slapped Diane one time" and that "it caused some discoloration of her left eye and some puffiness."

Though he admitted it a year earlier, the local News Journal chose not to report on them during his 1982 run for Congress. The paper said the "charges could not be substantiated" and efforts to raise them were a "low blow" by his Republican political opponent.

Carper, who serves on the national advisory board for Biden's reelection campaign, divorced the wife he hit a year after the election, in 1983.

After the Free Beacon resurfaced the allegations in 2017, Carper again acknowledged the incident, but insists he didn't try to hide the abuse.

"I have made many mistakes in my life and have always been willing to admit them," Carper said. "One of those mistakes took place 37 years ago when I slapped my then-wife, Diane, during a heated argument. It was wrong. I regretted it then and I still do today."

The News Journal makes no mention of spousal abuse in its piece on Carper's retirement, writing instead that he was "known for his quirks."