According to the tabloids, the last straw in Al and Tipper Gore’s 40-year marriage was massage therapist Molly Hagerty’s claim the former Vice President demanded sexual favors during a 2006 massage in his Portland, Ore. hotel room.
“And they also say Al had an affair with a Tennessee Titans cheerleader one week, a Hollywood producer the next,” says a friend close to the Gores.
But, adds the friend, “None of these is true. Both Al and Tipper are baffled by the allegations across the board, frustrated to see his name dragged through the mud.”
On June 30 Portland, Ore., police reopened an investigation into Hagerty’s allegations, citing “procedural issues” with how her statement to police last year was handled.
A friend of Tipper’s, speaking exclusively to PEOPLE for the new issue on newsstands Friday, sets the record straight for the former Second Lady, now trying to make a quiet new life for herself in California: “Tipper has known about these allegations since Al found out about them himself. She has known that massage has been very much a part of his health regimen for many, many, many years. She doesn’t believe any of the allegations that this woman [Hagerty] is making and they played no role whatsoever in their decision to separate.”
The friend says Tipper is unnerved to find herself back in the glare just after the couple’s June 1 announcement of their separation was supposed to afford her a life outside of the spotlight that comes with her husband’s public-policy work.
“She so wants a private life,” her friend says. “But she feels strongly that people know she doesn’t believe anything this woman is saying. She remains committed to Al and his reputation.”
Further debunking all the speculation of a contentious breakup to their marriage, the friend points out that Al and Tipper were together on a weeklong family vacation last month, just two weeks after going public with their split.
“They were on a lake in Tennessee, with all the kids and grandkids. Doing lake stuff – waterskiing, cooking out,” says the friend close to the Gores. “They continue to be a tight family. That’s not going to change.”