Political scandals of the United States

This article provides a list of major political scandals of the United States.

Scope and organization of political scandals

Categorizing and listing scandals

Division of this article's list of American political scandals falls into four categories --- (1) federal; (2) state; (3) local; and (4) private (often sexual) ---- is somewhat arbitrary and sometimes overlapping. The arrangement of the list of federal-level scandals in this article follows a more or less chronological order; in the case of state and local scandals, the arrangement is alphabetical, by state.


A scandal is anything which the public decides is a scandal. Aided and abbetted by the press and media (which may themselves be biased) which feed the public's desire for news, regardless of the truth, importance, or character of the 'crime' if any. Salacious behavior is very likely to attract attention, particularly when public officials are involved, thus an entire section is included on sex.

Neither can the press be counted on to define what a scandal is or is not. The enormous amount of publicity devoted to Monica Lewinsky did not match the seriousness of the crime, while recent overt actions of the United States such as the mining of Nicaraguan waters, the invasion of Panama or the invasion of Irag were treated by the press not as scandals but as public policy.


By definition, political scandals should involve politicians and not private citizens. We more or less expect civilians to be corrupt, but only when they are closely linked to elected or appointed officials should they be included. Thus Martha Stewart's insider trading and Rush Limbaugh's drug addiction may both have been 'scandals,' but they need not be included here.

An obvious benchmark for 'scandal' should be when a politician or his immediate staff is convicted and found quilty. Other offences such as misunderstandings, breaches of ethics, unproven crimes or coverups may or may not result in scandals depending on who's bringing the charges, the amount of publicity and the seriousness of the crime, if any.


There is no bright line to distinguish "major" scandals from "minor" scandals, but rather scandals tend to be defined by the public themselves and the media's desire to feed that particular frenzy. Thus, small but salacious scandals, such as Larry Craig's (R-MT) arrest for lewd behavior can eclipse more serious scandals such as suspending the Writ of Habeaus corpus in time of war.

What is also not so clear, is how far down the ladder of obscurity a scandal should go. During the Truman (D) administration a large number of local IRS staffers were found to be corrupt, but they were so far removed from Washington, Truman or any of his appointees, that it could hardly be called a 'Truman scandal' yet it played a part in his failure to win re-election.

Systemic scandals

Not included in this article are pervasive systemic scandals, such as the role of money in the political process. Details of campaign donations are well documented by the Federal Election Commission, the Center for Responsive Politics, and elsewhere. The "normal" purchase of access and influence by means of political donations is not covered in this article.

Neither are 'revolving door' stories, the latest manifestation of Eisenhower's 'military-industrial complex' treated here. That is the practice of hiring high placed officials to promote companies or lobbies they recently were paid to regulate. Some rules apply, but to a great extent this is legal.

Likewise, corporate scandals, failures or corruption are not included unless significant government involvement is also present. Thus the Lockheed bail out is not included, but the Enron scandal and Harken Energy are. There are just too many to include.


PRESENT - 2000, George W. Bush, Executive Branch Scandals

  • Alphonso Jackson, (R) Secretary of HUD resigned while under investigation by the FBI for revoking the contract of a vendor who told him he didn’t like President Bush. (2008)
  • "Lawyergate" - The Bush administration firing without explanation of a number of Republican federal prosecutors which he himself had appointed. It is alleged they were fired for prosecuting Republicans and not prosecuting Democrats. As hearings were called, a number of senior officials cited executive privilege and resigned rather than testify under oath, including;
  • Monica Goodling, (R) White House Liason
  • Michael A. Battle, (R) Director of Executive Office of US Attorneys
  • Bradley Scholzman, (R) Director of Executive Office of US Attorneys who replaced Battle
  • Michael Elston, (R) Chief of Staff to Paul McNulty
  • Paul McNulty, (R) Deputy Attorney General
  • Kyle Sampson, (R) Chief of Staff to Alberto Gonzales
  • Alberto Gonzales, (R) Attorney General
  • Sarah Taylor, (R) Assistant to Karl Rove
  • Karl Rove, (R) Assistant to the President
  • Harriet Miers, (R) Legal Counsel to the President.

As of August 2008, the investigation continues.

  • Lurita Alexis Doan (R) Resigned as head of the General Services Administration. She was under scrutiny for conflict of interest and violations of the Hatch Act. (2008)
  • Jack Abramoff (R) see Scandals, Legislative Branch.
  • David Safavian, (R) Administrator of Procurement Policy for the OMB, found guilty of four counts of lying and sentenced to 18 months.
  • Roger Stillwell, (R) Staff in the Department of the Interior under George W. Bush. Pled guilty and received two years suspended sentence.
  • Susan Ralston, (R) Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to Carl Rove, resigned October 6, 2006 after it became known that she accepted gifts and passed information to her former boss Jack Abramoff.
  • Steven Griles (R), (former Deputy Secretary of the Interior) pled guilty to obstruction of justice and was sentenced to 10 months.
  • Italia Federici, (R) staff to Secretary of Interior, obstruction of justice, 4 years probation
  • Mark Zachares, (R)staff in Labor Depart, bribed by Abramoff, guilty of conspiracy to defraud
  • Robert E. Coughlin, Justice Department official pled guilty to conflict of interest.
  • Julie MacDonald, (R) Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior, resigned May 1, 2007 after giving government documents to developers. (2007)
  • Randall L. Tobias, (R) Deputy Secretary of State, after confirming he had been a customer of the 'DC Madam', Deborah Palfrey, escort service. (2007)
  • Lester Crawford, (R) Commissioner of the FDA, resigned after 2 months. Pled guilty to conflict of interest. (2006)
  • Brian Doyle, (R) Deputy Press Secretary in the Department of Homeland Security. Charged with 7 counts of using a computer to seduce a child and 16 counts of transmitting harmful materials to a minor. (2006)
  • Harriet Miers (R) Longtime friend and personal attorney to President Bush who nominated her for Justice of the Supreme Court. Derided by both parties, she herself stepped down after three weeks stating she was "unqualified." (2005)
  • Downing Street Memo minutes of UK government secret meeting (dated 23 July 2002, leaked 2005) include summary of MI6 Director Sir Richard Dearlove's report that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy."
  • FISA/NSA Controversy, By executive order, George W. Bush (as part of the war on terror) authorized the NSA to easedrop on electronic communications between the US and abroad without warrents, thus by-passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court which had been set up for this purpose. (2005)
  • Michael D. Brown (R) (born November 8, 1954) Appointed director of FEMA after 11 years heading the Arabian Horse Association. Though praised by Bush (You're doin' a hell of a job Brownie") he resigned following the outcry over his mishandling of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. (2005)
  • Bush administration payment of columnists to say nice things. Illegal payments were made to Armstrong Williams(R), Maggie Gallagher(R) and Michael McManus(R) (2004-2005)
  • Sandy Berger (D) former Clinton security advisor pleads guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully removing classified documents from the National Archives in (2005)
  • Bernard Kerik (R), nomination as Secretary of Homeland Security derailed by past employment of illegal alien as nanny, and amid allegations of various other ethical improprieties (2004)
  • Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse Top US officials allow Iraqi prisoners to be tortured for information by US troops (2004-2005)
  • Plame affair (2004), in which CIA agent Valerie Plame's name was leaked to the press in retalition for her husband's criticism of the Bush administration.
  • Kyle Foggo, (R) (Dusty) Executive Director of CIA, guilty of bribery 02/17/07
  • Steven Griles, (R) Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior, pled guilty to obstruction of justice. (2007)
  • Lewis Libby, (R) (Scooter) Chief of Staff to Dick Cheney, convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice 3/06/07. Sentenced to 30 mos and fined $250K. Commuted by Bush July 1, (2007) CIA leak scandal (2003) and Plamegate.)
  • Yellowcake forgery. Evidence alleged to be forged was presented as true by the Bush administration while preparing for the 2003 invasion of Iraq (2003)
  • Enron collapse (2002) leading to investigation of Kenneth Lay (R), a top political ally and financial donor to the election campaign of President George W. Bush; Lay, who had been named as a leading candidate for Secretary of the Treasury, was eventually indicted (2004). Attempts to link individual politicians with the Enron malfeasance have not been particularly successful, due to the fact that so many politicians of both major parties received campaign contributions (including 158 Republicans and 100 Democrats in Congress (as of 2001) ).
  • Linda Chavez (R), nomination as Secretary of Labor derailed by past employment of illegal alien (2001)
  • Bush vs Gore election. see Judicial Branch Scandals

Present - 2000, Legislative Branch Scandals

  • Ted Stevens Senator(R-AK) indicted for bribery and tax evasion, July 29, 2008
  • Christopher Ward, (R) treasurer for the National Republican Congressional Committee was accused of embezzling $800,000 during the last six years. Chicago Tribune, June 13, 2008, Section 1, pg 7
  • Charles Rangel (D-NY) accused of failing to report $75,000 income from the rental of his villa in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. (September 2008).
  • Rick Renzi (R-AZ) Announced he would not seek another term. Seven months later, on February 22, 2008 he pled not guilty to 35 charges of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.
  • Jack Abramoff Scandal, (R) Lobbyist found guilty of conspiracy, tax evasion and corruption of public officals in three different courts in a wide ranging investigation. Currently serving 70 months and fined $24.7 million. See Scandals, Executive Branch. The following were also convicted:
  • Adam Kidon, business partner of Abramoff, pled quilty to fraud, sentenced to 70 months
  • Michael Scanlon,(R) former staff to Tom DeLay, working for Abramoff, pled quilty to bribery
  • Tony Rudy, (R)forner staff to Tom DeLay, pled quilty to conspiracy
  • Robert Ney, (R-OH) bribed by Abramoff, pled quilty to conspiracy, sentenced to 30 months
  • Neil Volz, (R)former staff to Robert Ney, R-OH, pled quilty to conspiracy
  • William Heaton, (R)former staff to Robert Ney, pled quilty to fraud, 24 months probation
  • J. Steven Griles, (R) Deputy Secretary of the Interior, guilty to conspiracry, 10 months
  • Jared Carpenter, (R) income tax evasion, 4 years probation
  • John Doolittle R-CA, both he and his wife are under investigation, January (2008)
  • Duke Cunningham (R-CA) House Majority Leader pled guilty on November 28, 2005 to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion. Sentenced to over eight years. Also involved were:
  • Brent Wilkes, defense contractor, bribed Cunningham with $2.4 million, serving 144 months
  • Thomas Kontogiannis, businessman, sentenced to 97 months
  • Mitchell Wade, defense contractor, pled quilty to bribery
  • Kyle Foggo, CIA Exec. Director, indicted Feb 13, 2007 fraud, money laundering, conspiracy
  • Robert Fromm, convicted October 9, 2007
  • John T. Michael, Kontogiannis' nephew, convicted February 4, 2008
  • Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) struck a U.S. Capitol Police officer in the chest after he attempted to stop her from going around a security checkpoint. McKinney apologized on the floor of the House and no charges were filed.(March 29, 2006).
  • William J. Jefferson (D-LA) In August 2005 the FBI seized $90,000 in cash from Jefferson's home freezer. He was re-elected in 2006. On June 4, 2007, Jefferson was indicted on 16 charges of corruption for accepting bribes from convicted businessman Vernan Jackson. Jefferson pled not guilty. His former Chief of Staff Brett Pfeffer has been sentenced to 84 months.
  • Tom DeLay (R-TX), House Majority Leader, reprimanded twice by House Ethics Committee and aides indicted (2004-2005); eventually DeLay himself was indicted (October 2005); DeLay resigned from the House 9 June, 2006. See Jack Abramoff, Scandals Legislative Branch
  • James W. Ellis, (R) runs DeLay’s PAC, indicted
  • John D. Calyandro, (R) runs Texans for a Republican Majority, indicted
  • Trent Lott Senator(R-MS) resigned as Senate Majority Leader after supporting remarks by Senator Strom Thurmond which were construed as supporting racial segregation. (2002)
  • Bill Janklow (R-SD) convicted of second-degree manslaughter for running a stop sign and killing a motorcyclist. Resigned from the House and given 100 days in the county jail and three years probation.
  • Robert Torricelli Senator(D-NJ) After 14 years in the House and one term in the Senate, Torricelli declined to run again when accused of taking illegal contributons from Korean, David Chang (2002)
  • Jim Traficant (D-OH) Found guilty on 10 felony counts of financial corruption, he was sentenced to 8 years in prison and expelled from the House. (2002)
  • Edward Mezvinsky (D-IA) Pled guilty to 31 charges of bank fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud. (2001)

Present -2000, Judicial Branch Scandals

  • District of Columbia v. Heller, A legal case in which the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision held that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm for private use. It was the first case in 200 years to directly affirm that the right to keep and bear arms is a an individual right rather than a collective right that applies only to state-regulated militias. (2008)
  • FISA Court, Established to over see spying by the FBI, George W. Bush by passed the court entirely and conducted massive spying on foreign and domestic communications. In 2005 Judge James Robertson resigned his position with the FISC, apparently in protest of the secret surveillance. (2002)
  • Bush vs Gore election. In which the Supreme Court, by a heated and controversial 5-4 decision, halted the recount of votes in Florida, thus handing the election to Bush.(1999)

1999 - 1992, William J. Clinton, Executive Branch Scandals

  • Henry Cisneros (D) Resigns as Clinton's Housing Secretary and pleads guilty (1999) to lying to the FBI about the amount of money he paid his former mistress, Linda Medlar. He was fined $10,000.
  • Monica Lewinsky Affair, Discovery and coverup of President Clinton's sexual relation with an intern which resulted in his impeachment, though he was found not guilty. Also known as Monicagate (1997-1999)
  • Teamstergate In which Teamster president Ron Carey (D) allegedly gave money to Bill Clinton's (D) 1996 presidential campaign and Clinton gave money for Carey's campaign. Carey's re-election was invalidated, though he was later cleared of all charges. No charges were ever filed against the Clinton's.
  • Webster Hubbell (D) Associate Attorney General, pled guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion. Sentenced to 21 months in prison. (1995)
  • Ronald Blackley, (D) Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy’s Chief of Staff, sentenced to 27 mos for perjury (1999)
  • Whitewater scandal (1994-2000) Independent counsel Kenneth Starr (R) investigated the Clinton's role in peddling influence for the Whitewater (real estate) Development Corporation while he was Governor of Arkansas. No criminal charges were brought against either President Bill Clinton (D) or First Lady Hillary Clinton (D)
  • Wampumgate Bruce Babbitt (D), Secretary of the Interior 1993-2001. Accused of lying to Congress about influencing a 1995 American Indian tribe casino decision. Babbitt was cleared of all wrongdoing.
  • Pardongate (1999 - 2001) -- President Bill Clinton (D) granted 396 pardons at the end of his term, an amount which seemed excessive compared with the 74 granted by his predecessor George H.W. Bush, but not when compared to his predecessor Ronald Reagan who pardoned 393.
  • Filegate Alleged misuse of FBI resources by Clinton Security Chief, Craig Livingstone (D), to compile an 'enemies' list (1996); Investigation found insufficient evidence of criminal wrongdoing
  • Americorps head Eli Segal (D) investigated (1996)
  • The People's Republic of China campaign finance controversy (1996) Refers to alleged efforts by China to influence the 1996 elections by directing campaign donations through intermediaries, largely to Democratic candidates including Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
  • Vincent Foster(D) The White House lawyer was alleged to have been murdered by either Bill or Hillary Clinton, for various reasons and with varying degrees of involvment. The suicide was investigated by the Park Police Service and FBI, Independent Consultant Robert Fiske and finally by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr (R) all of whom ruled that it was a simple suicide. (1993)
  • White House Coffees and Lincoln Bedroom -- political donations linked to access to President Clinton. No wrong doing was found.
  • Travelgate (1993) Involving White House travel agents. In 1998 Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr (R) exonerated President Bill Clinton of any involvement.
  • Iran-Contra pardons President George H.W. Bush's President(R) lameduck pardon of Reagan's Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger(R) and 6 other convicted Iran-Contra affair figures on December 24, 1992 just days before Weinberger's perjury trial was to begin.
  • Catalina Vasquez Villalpando, (R) Treasurer of the United States. Pled guilty to obstruction of justice and tax evasion. Only Treasurer ever sent to prison. (1992)

1999-1992, Legislative Branch Scandals

  • Wes Cooley (R-OR) In 1997, Cooley was convicted of having lied on the 1994 voter information pamphlet about his service in the Army. He was fined and sentenced to two years probation.
  • Newt Gingrich (R-GA) The Speaker of the House was accused of financial improprieties leading to House reprimand and $300,000 in sanctions leading to his resignation. (1997)
  • Walter R. Tucker III (D-CA) Resigned from the House before conviction on bribery charges while Mayor of Compton, CA(1996)
  • Carol Moseley-Braun Senator(D-IL) conspired with her siblings to hide $28,750 of Medicaid money, and was fined by the U.S. Senate. (1993)
  • House banking scandal (1992) The House of Representatives Bank found that 450 members had overdrawn their checking accounts, but not been penalized. The following 22 House members were singled out by the House Ethics Committee. Buzz Lukens(R-OH) Carl D. Perkins(D-KY) Carroll Hubbard(D-KY) Mary Rose Oskar(D-OH) Walter Fauntroy (D-DC) and Jack Russ, Sgt. at Arms were later convicted.
  • Tommy F. Robinson (R-AK) -996 checks, 16 months overdue
  • Robert Mrazek (D-NY) -920 checks, 23 months overdue
  • Robert W. Davis (R-MI) -873 checks, 13 months overdue
  • Doug Walgren (D-PA) -858 checks, 16 months overdue
  • Charles F. Hatcher (D-GA) -819 checks, 35 months overdue
  • Stephen J. Solarz (D-NY) -743 checks, 30 months overdue
  • Harold Ford, Sr. (D-TN) -743 checks, 30 months overdue
  • Charles Hayes (D-IL) -715 checks, 15 months overdue
  • Ronald D. Coleman (D-TX) -673 checks, 23 months overdue
  • Carl C. Perkins (D-KY) -514 checks, 14 months overdue
  • Bill Alexander (D-AK) -497 checks, 18 months overdue
  • William F. Goodling(R-PA) -430 checks, 9 months overdue
  • Edolphus Towns (D-NY) -408 checks, 18 months overdue
  • Ed Feighan (D-OH) -397 checks, 8 months overdue
  • Mickey Edwards (R-OK) -386 checks, 13 months overdue
  • Bill Clay (D-MO) -328 checks, 9 months overdue
  • Tony Coelho (D-CA) -316 checks, 12 months overdue
  • John Conyers (D-MI) -273 checks, 9 months overdue
  • Mary Rose Oakar (D-OH) -213 checks, 18 months overdue
  • Joseph Early (D-MA) -124 checks, 13 months overdue
  • Douglas H. Bosco (D-CA) -124 checks, 13 months overdue
  • Jim Bates (D-CA) - 89 checks, 9 months overdue
  • Congressional Post Office Scandal (1991 - 1995) Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL) and Joe Kolter (D-PA) were accused of heading a conspiracy to launder Post Office money through stamps and postal vouchers. Rostenkowski was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison, in 1995.
  • Robert Packwood Senator(R-OR) resigned his office before expulsion, after 29 women came forward with claims of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and sexual assaults. His claims of no wrongdoing were eventually contradicted by his own lurid diaries boasting of his sexual conquests.(1992)
  • Jay Kim (R-CA) Accepted $250,000 in illegal 1992 campaign contributions and was sentenced to two months house arrest. (1992)
  • David Durenberger Senator (R-MN) denounced by Senate for unethical financial transactions (1990)and then disbarred. In 1995 he pled guilty to misuse of public funds and given one years probation.

1992 - 1988, George H. W. Bush, Executive Branch Scandals

1992 - 1988, Legislative Branch Scandals

  • Robert Packwood Senator(R-OR) resigned his office before expulsion, after 29 women came forward with claims of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and sexual assaults. His claims of no wrongdoing were eventually contradicted by his own lurid diaries boasting of his sexual conquests.(1992)
  • David Durenberger Senator (R-MN) denounced by Senate for unethical financial transactions (1990)and then disbarred. In 1995 he pled guilty to misuse of public funds and given one years probation.
  • Jesse Helms Senator (R-NC), Signed an admission of guilt for election tampering in 1990 but was never prosecuted.

1987 - 1980, Ronald Reagan, Executive Branch Scandals

  • Robert Bernard Anderson (R) former Secretary of Treasury(1957-1961) pled guilty to owning an offshore bank in (1987).
  • Raymond J. Donovan (R) Secretary of Labor under Reagan, investigated and acquitted of larceny and fraud (1987)
  • HUD Scandal Controversy concerning low income housing money to selected contractors.
  • James G. Watt (R) Secretary of Interior, 1981-1983, charged with 25 counts of perjury and obstruction of justice, sentenced to 5 years probation, fined $5000 and 500 hours of community service.
  • Philip D. Winn (R) Assistant Secretary of HUD, 1981-82, pled guilty to bribery in 1994. Was pardoned by Bill Clinton 11/21/2000.
  • Thomas Demery, (R) Assistant Secretary of HUD, pled guilty to steering HUD subsidies to politically connected donors.
  • Joseph A. Strauss, (R)Special Assistant to the Secretary of HUD, convicted for accepting payments to favor Puerto Rican land developers in receiving HUD funding.
  • Deborah Gore Dean, (R) Executive Assistant to (Samuel Pierce, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development 1981-87 , not charged). Convicted of perjury, conspiracy, bribery. Sentenced to 21 months in prison.(1987)
  • Wedtech scandal Wedtech Corporation convicted of bribery for Defense Department contracts
  • Edwin Meese(R) Attorney General, never convicted, but resigned
  • Lyn Nofziger(R) White House staff, conviction overturned
  • Mario Biaggi (D-NY) sentenced to 2 1/2 years (1987)
  • Savings and loan scandal in which 747 institutions failed and had to be rescued with $160,000,000,000 of taxpayer monies in connection with the Keating Five.
  • Keating Five (1980-1989) Failure of Lincoln Savings and Loan led to Charles Keating donating to five congressmen for help. They were;
  • Alan Cranston Senator(D-CA) reprimanded
  • Dennis DeConcini(D-AZ) acted improperly
  • Don Riegle(D-MI) acted improperly
  • John Glenn(D-OH) used poor judgement
  • John McCain(R-AZ) used poor judgement
  • Iran-Contra cover-up In which Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger (R) and eleven others convicted of crimes related to Iran-Contra, were pardoned by now President George H. W. Bush who had been Vice-President (and former CIA Director) at the time.
  • Iran-Contra Affair (1985-1986); A plan conceived by CIA head William Casey (R) and Oliver North (R) of the NSC to sell TOW missles to Iran for the return of US hostages and use part of the money received to fund Contra rebels trying to overthrow the left wing government of Nicaragua. Ronald Reagan appeared on TV stating there was no "arms for hostages" deal, but was later forced to admit, also on TV, that yes, there indeed had been.
  • Elliott Abrams (R) Asst Sec of State, convicted of withholding evidence
  • Robert C. McFarlane (R) National Security Adviser, convicted of withholding evidence
  • Alan D. Fiers Chief of the CIA's Central American Task Force, convicted of withholding evidence
  • Clair George Chief of Covert Ops-CIA, convicted of perjury
  • Oliver North (R) convicted of bribery and obstruction of Congress but ruling was overturned
  • John Poindexter (R) conspiracy' but ruling was overturned
  • Casper Weinberger (R) Secretary of Defense, pardoned before trial by George H. W. Bush
  • Duane R. Clarridge (R) pardoned before trial by George H. W. Bush
  • Richard V. Secord pleded guilty to making false statements to Congress;
  • Albert Hakim pleaded guilty to supplementing the salary of North;
  • Thomas G. Clines convicted of four counts of tax-related offenses for failing to report income from the operations;
  • Carl R. Channell pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States;
  • Richard R. Miller pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States;
  • Joseph F. Fernandez indicted on four counts of obstruction and false statements; case dismissed when Attorney General Richard L. Thornburgh refused to declassify information needed for his defense;
  • Michael Deaver Deputy Chief of Staff to Ronald Reagan 1981-85, pled guilty to perjury and fined $100,000.
  • William Casey (R) insider trading (1983)
  • EPA Scandal Environmental Protection Agency, mis use of funding and contempt for congress
  • Anne Gorsuch Burford (R) Head of the EPA. Refused to turn over documents to Congress, where upon she resigned with twenty of her top employees after being found in Contempt. (1980)
  • Rita Lavelle (R) Assistant Administrator of EPA. Misused the EPA’s ‘superfund.' Convicted of perjury. Sentenced to six months in prison.
  • "Debategate": briefing book of President Jimmy Carter (D) stolen and given to Ronald Reagan (R) before U.S. presidential election, 1980
  • Hamilton Jordan (D) Jimmy Carter's advisor who became target of repeated rumors of coarse and even criminal behavior, but extensive legal investigations failed to substantiate any of them. (1979)

1992 - 1980, Legislative Branch Scandals

  • Robert Packwood Senator(R-OR) resigned his office before expulsion, after 29 women came forward with claims of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and sexual assaults. His claims of no wrongdoing were eventually contradicted by his own lurid diaries boasting of his sexual conquests.(1992)
  • House Post Office Scandal, The investigation into the embezzling of House Post Office funds by the postmaster and the trading of post office stamps by lawmakers for cash. (1992-1996)
  • Daniel Rostenkowski (D-IL) 1996 plead guilty to mail fraud. Served 15 of 17 months and was then pardoned by President Bill Clinton. (1996)
  • Joseph Kolter (D-PA) Indicted for mail fraud and served 6 months. (1993)
  • David Durenberger Senator (R-MN) denounced by Senate for unethical financial transactions (1990)and then disbarred. In 1995 he pled guilty to misuse of public funds and given one years probation.
  • Jesse Helms Senator (R-NC), Signed an admission of guilt for election tampering in 1990 but was never prosecuted.
  • Buz Lukens,(R-OH). See sex scandals also. Convicted of 5 counts of bribery and conspiracy and served one year in prison. (1996)
  • Anthony Lee Coelho(D-CA) resigns after being accused of unethical finance practices including "junk bond" deal. He was never charged with any crime. (1989)
  • Jim Wright (D-TX) House Speaker resigned after ethics investigation led by Newt Gingrich(R) alleged improper receipt of $145,000 in gifts by Wright and his wife (1989)
  • Congressional page sex scandal House censure of;
  • Dan Crane (D-IL) for having sex with a female
  • Gerry Studds (D-MA) for having sex with a male page (1983)
  • Abscam (1980) FBI sting involving fake 'Arabs' trying to bribe 31 congressmen. Arrested were NJ State Senator Angelo Errichetti (D) and members of the Philadelphia City Council. The following six Congressmen were convicted.
  • Harrison A. Williams Senator(D-NJ)
  • John Jenrette (D-SC)
  • Richard Kelly (R-FL)
  • Raymond Lederer (D-PA)
  • Michael "Ozzie" Myers (D-PA)
  • Frank Thompson (D-NJ)
  • Mario Biagg (D-NY) In 1988, Biaggi was convicted on 15 felony counts of obstruction of justice and accepting illegal gratuities. (1988)
  • James Traficant Jr (D-OH) Convicted of ten felony counts including bribery, racketeering and tax evasion. (1988)
  • Frederick W. Richmond (D-NY) Convicted of tax evasion and possession of marijuana. (1982)
  • Herman Talmadge Senator(D-GA) Denounced by the Senate for accepting over $43,435.83 in gifts. He failed to be re-elected. (1979)
  • Tongsun Park "Koreagate" scandal involving alleged bribery of more than 100 members of Congress by South Korean government; charges were pressed only against congressmen Richard T. Hanna(D-CA) (convicted) and Otto E. Passman(D-LA) (not prosecuted because of illness); also implicated was South Korean President Park Chung Hee (1977-1980)
  • "Lancegate": President Carter's OMB Director Bert Lance (D) resignation amidst allegations of misuse of funds. He was aquitted of all charges. (1977)
  • John Connally (R-TX) Milk Money scandal (1975) Aquitted of all charges.

1992 - 1980, Judicial Branch Scandals

  • Alcee Hastings (D-FL), federal district court judge impeached and convicted of soliciting a bribe. (1989) subsequently elected to U.S. House of Representatives(1992)

1979 - 1950, Executive Branch Scandals

  • "Debategate": briefing book of President Jimmy Carter (D) stolen and given to Ronald Reagan (R) before U.S. presidential election, 1980
  • Hamilton Jordan (D) Jimmy Carter's advisor who became target of repeated rumors of coarse and even criminal behavior, but extensive legal investigations failed to substantiate any of them. (1979)
  • Gerald Ford President (R) Controversial pardon of resigned President Richard Nixon(R) just before he could be tried for conspiracy(1974)
  • Spiro T. Agnew (R-MD) Richard Nixon's V-P, Convicted of bribery and forced to resign(1973)
  • Nixon Jewelry (1974) Violation of Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act of 1881, as amended in 1966.
  • Bebe Rebozo (1973) investigated for accepting large contribution to Nixon campaign. No charges filed.
  • Watergate (1972-1973) A burglary into the Democratic National headquarters and its coverup by President Nixon(R) resulted in eleven convictions and the only resignation of a U.S. President. They are;
  • John H. Mitchell, Attorney General, convicted of perjury
  • Frederick C. LaRue, Advisor to John Mitchell, convicted of obstruction of justice
  • H. R. Haldeman, Chief of Staff for Nixon, convicted of perjury
  • John Ehrlichman, Counsel to the White House, convicted of perjury
  • John W. Dean III, Counsel to Nixon, convicted of obstruction of justice
  • Dwight L. Chapin, Deputy Asst to Nixon, convicted of false and misleading statements
  • Herbert W. Kalmbach, personal attorney to Nixon, convicted of illegal campaigning
  • Charles W. Colson, Special Consul to Nixon, convicted of obstruction justice
  • G. Gordon Liddy, Special Investigations Group, convicted of burglary
  • E. Howard Hunt, ‘security consultant,’ convicted of burglary
  • Pentagon Papers Exposed unconstitutional military actions by LBJ(D) and Nixon(R) in Vietnam from 1964 through 1971.
  • Abe Fortas Supreme Court Judge(D) resigns after financial scandal, no charges filed (1969)
  • Bobby Baker (D) Advisor to LBJ resigned after charges of favoritism(1963)
  • Billy Sol Estes (D) convicted felon who influenced TX elections(1961)
  • Sherman AdamsEisenhower's staff(R) wife given a Vicuna Coat as a possible bribe(1958)
  • Richard Nixon (R) V-P nominee delivers "Checkers Speech," to deflect scandal about $18,000 in gifts, maintaining the only personal gift he had received was a dog (1952)
  • IRS Investigation by the Justice Department lead to the firing or resignation of 166 lower level employees causing Truman to be stained by charges of corruption.(1950)

1979 - 1950, Legislative Branch Scandals

  • Ted Kennedy Senator(D-MA) drove his car into the channel between Chappaquiddick Island and Martha's Vineyard, killing passenger Mary Jo Kopechne. Kennedy pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a suspended sentence of two months(1969)
  • Thomas J. Dodd Senator (D-CT) censured for financial misconduct and corruption (1967)
  • Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (D-NY) expelled from Congress for (1967) but re-elected anyway
  • McCarthyism Joseph McCarthy Senator (R-WI) Hearings into the supposed spread of Communism in the US Army and Hollywood(1948-1957)
  • IRS Investigation by the Justice Department lead to the firing or resignation of 166 lower level employees causing Truman to be stained by charges of corruption.(1950)

1979 - 1950, Judicial Branch Scandals

  • Otto Kerner, Jr. (D) resigned as U.S. Seventh Circuit Judge Court of after conviction for bribery, mail fraud and tax evasion Governor of Illinois(1974)
  • Harold Carswell (R)withdrew from nomination to the Supreme Court (1970) after publication of a 20 year old speech: "I yield to no man . .. in the firm, vigorous belief in the principles of white supremacy." Arrested in (1976) for homosexual advances in a men's room.

1948 - 1900




  • XYZ Affair French seizure of US ships prompted a Quasi-war a treaty was signed. (1777-1800)
  • Yazoo land scandal Repeated conspiracies to sell millions of acres in Georgia(1790-1803)
  • Conway Cabal Movement or conspiracy to remove George Washington as commander of the Continental Army (1777-1778)
  • Silas Deane Accused of mismanagment and treason while ambassador to France(1777)
  • Hutchinson Letters Affair, Thomas Hutchinson, Royal Governor of Massachusetts, advised the crown that American liberties should be taken away slowly. (1774)


Present - 2000

Name Pled Guilty/Convicted Sentenced Sentence Started Serving Current Location
Bill Allen May 7, 2007
Rick Smith May 7, 2007
Bill Bobrick May 16, 2007 November 27, 2007 5 months Taft CI
Tom Anderson July 9, 2007 October 15, 2007 60 months December 3, 2007 Sheridan FCI
Pete Kott September 25, 2007 December 7, 2007 72 months January 17, 2008 Sheridan FCI
Vic Kohring November 1, 2007 May 8, 2008 42 months
Jim Clark March 4, 2008 Delayed
Bruce Weyhrauch

  • Don Siegelman Governor (D-AL) found guilty of bribery, mail fraud and obstruction of justice 6/29/2006, sentenced to 88 months.
  • Alaska Executives Bill Allen and Rick Smith of oilfield service company VECO Corporation pleaded guilty to federal charges to extortion, bribery, and conspiracy to impede the Internal Revenue Service. The charges involved bribing Alaska lawmakers to vote in favor of an oil tax law favored by the VECO that was the subject of vigorous debate during the regular and two special sessions of the Alaska Legislature in 2006, and were part of a larger probe of political corruption in Alaska by federal authorities.
  • Ted Stevens Senator (R-AK) indicted on bribery charges, with the VECO Oil bribery scandals on July 29, 2008. The longest serving Republican in the US Senate faces seven federal indictments, and lost his bid to have the case moved to Alaska, from Washington DC juristiction.
  • California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-CA) was accused on October 10, 2007 of spending tens of thousands of dollars of campaign money for personal expenses, such as $1800 for a meal at a Parisian restaurant and $5000 for wine from Bordeaux
  • California Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush (R-CA) resigned on June 28, 2000, rather than face impeachment for campaign-finance violations arising out of insurance-industry settlements after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
  • California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley (D-CA) was accused of laundering campaign funds during his race for Secretary of State.
  • California Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-CA) was probed by the FBI in 2004 of his business relationships. In 2006, Perata accepted money from Indian tribes while sponsoring a bill to expand Indian gaming. He also was criticized when he called those who opposed giving illegal immigrants drivers licenses and a guest worker program with a path to citizenship "crackers." In May 2007, the East Bay Express, an alternative weekly in the Bay Area, published a two-part investigation of Perata, in which he manipulated liberal causes, such as antiwar sentiment, for his own personal and political gains. He was also accused of using campaign donations to support an indulgent lifestyle, and corruption
  • Connecticut - In 2004 Republican Governor John Rowland (R-CT) Rowland resigned from office during a corruption investigation, and later pleaded guilty in federal court to a one-count with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and tax fraud. He served ten months in a federal prison followed by four months house arrest, ending in June, 2006.
  • Florida Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer (D-FL) jailed on suspicions of electoral fraud in March 2005; charges were dismissed in April 2005 and he returned to office. Ernest Page served as interim mayor while Dyer was facing charges. In 2006, Ernest Page (D) was arrested and convicted for bribery and official misconduct while in the mayor's office; he was sentenced to 42 months in prison.
  • Florida, Senator Gary Siplin (D-FL) was convicted of third-degree felony and grand theft of $5,000 or more for using the state employees for his election campaign (2006)
  • Georgia Congressman David Scott (D-GA) has expent $52,000 to $344,000 to himself, friends, family and business from campaigns every election cycle since 2002. Shortly after the 2006 election, he was served with an IRS tax lien for over $153,000.
  • Illinois Chicago Hired Truck Program (2005)
  • Illinois Governor George H. Ryan (R) illegal sale of government licenses and contracts as Secretary of IL State. Convicted (2006)
  • Illinois Chicago alderman Percy Giles (D) sentenced to 3 years in prison for racketeering, extortion, among other things in 2000.
  • Illinois Chicago alderman Arenda Troutman (D-IL) was arrested and charged with bribery in 2007.
  • Illinois Chicago City clerk Jim Laski (D) pleaded guilty to pocketing bribes for steering city business to trucking companies (2006).
  • Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards (D-LA) convicted of extortion (2000)
  • Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. (D-MD) telephoning Maryland Court of Appeals Judges ex parte, trying to lobby them not to overturn the unconstitutional redistricting plan he had championed (2002)
  • Maryland Former Maryland state senator Thomas L. Bromwell (D-MD) was indicted in 2005 on 30 counts of federal racketeering, corruption, and fraud charges, in alleged conspiracy to wield influence to benefit construction company Poole and Kent, in exchange for concealed payments and other favors
  • Michigan Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D-MI) allegedly, along with Chief-of-Staff Christine Beatty, fired two police officers for investigating claims that the Kilpatrick used his security unit to cover up their extramarital affairs, in which they both allegedly lied under oath during a whistle-blower's lawsuit in 2007. He was also alleged to have used his city-issued credit card for expensive travel, his city-leased Lincoln Navigator for his wife and held wild parties involving his security team and strippers at the his mansion through his first 4 years at mayor (2008)
  • Minnesota Minneapolis city council members Brian Herron (D) (taped by FBI accepting $10,000 bribe in 2001) and Joe Biernat (accepting free plumbing work on house)
  • Nebraska State Treasurer Lorelee Byrd (R-NE) accused of massive improper check-writing; guilty plea to one misdemeanor charge of official misconduct and resigned in 2006
  • Nebraska Former Douglas County Election Commissioner Pat McPherson (R-NE) accused of groping a 17-year-old girl wearing Red Robin mascot. City Councilman Chuck Sigerson was accused of disturbing her piece by touching the tail of the costume. Event supposedly happened at 8 P.M. on a Friday night and at the table were two company executives, a Sunday school teacher, Sigerson's wife, and the wives of the executives. McPherson was acquitted and the jury voted to acquit Sigerson 4-2, so the prosecutor dismissed the charges. McPherson resigned from his position at the Governor's request, before the trial and acquittal; Councilman Sigerson was re-elected in 2005.
  • New Jersey Jim McGreevey Governor (D-NJ) Resigned from office 11/15/07 after admitting his homosexuality.(2004)
  • New Jersey State Senator and former Newark Mayor Sharpe James (D-NJ) James is accused of numerous corrpution charges including, mail fraud, conspiracy, wire fraud and using city money to boost his salary and pension and to pay for his numerous sexual affairs. (2007)
  • New Jersey State Senator Wayne Bryant (D-NJ) pension padding, no-show jobs, mail fraud, wire fraud and bribery. (2007)
  • New Jersey Former State Senator Joseph Coniglio (D-NJ) indicted for abusing state grants, mail fraud and extortion. (2008)
  • Ohio Governor Bob Taft (R-OH) pleads no contest and is convicted on four first-degree misdemeanor ethics violations (2005)
  • Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation loss of $215 million in high-risk fund run by big contributor to political campaigns, and loss of state funds in $50 million rare-coin investment of prominent campaign contributor (2005)
  • Ohio Pittsburgh City Council Member Twanda Carlisle (D-PA) was sentenced to 12 to 24 months in prison and ordered to return $43,100 to the city after pleading no contest to three charges of theft by deception, three charges of criminal conspiracy, three charges of violation of Pennsylvania's state Ethics Act, five Election Code violations, and three charges of failing to file required financial disclosures.
  • Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Fumo (D-PA) indicted on 139-counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and filing a false tax return. Two staffers were arrested and indicted on charges of destroying electronic evidence, including e-mail related to the investigation. (2007)
  • Pennsylvania State Senator Gerald LaValle (D-PA) under investigation for nearly $50,000 in "unauthorized" compensation paid to his wife Darla by a non-profit funded by state grants. (2007)
  • Pennsylvania Former State Representative Linda Bebko-Jones (D-PA) and chief-of-staff charged with forging nominating petitions and submitting the fraudulent forms to the Secretary of the Commonwealth. (2007)
  • Pennsylvania Former State Representative Frank LaGrotta (D-PA) plead guilty to 2-counts of corruption for giving away $26,000 of state funds to family members through ghost employment in the 2006 Pennsylvania General Assembly bonus controversy. Sentenced to 6 months house arrest, probation, and fines. (2007)
  • Rhode Island Providence Mayor Vincent Cianci (I-RI) convicted of racketeering conspiracy (2002)
  • Tennessee State Senators John Ford (D-TN), Kathryn Bowers (D-TN) and Ward Crutchfield (D-TN) are accused of bribery among other charges in Operation Tennessee Waltz scandal (2005)
  • Wisconsin Caucus Scandal (2002)
  • Washington Spokane Mayor James West (R-WA) an opponent of gay rights, denied accusations of having molested two boys while he was a sheriff’s deputy and Boy Scout leader in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but came under investigation (2005) for offering municipal jobs to men he met in gay online chat rooms. West was ousted in a recall vote December 2005.
  • Puerto Rico Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila indicted by the United States on 19 counts of campaign finance corruption and conspiracy to violate federal election laws. On August 19, 2008 he was indicted a second time with 5 additional counts, including four counts of Honest Services Wire Fraud, 18 USC 1343, 1346 and 2, and a fifth count of Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, 18 USC 1956(h).


  • Alabama Governor Harold Guy Hunt (R-AL) convicted of improperly using campaign money and removed from office (1993); received a rare full pardon due to the confession of his accountant, Gene McKenzie (1998).
  • Arizona "AZSCAM" legislators caught on videotape taking payoffs for favors to gambling figure. Ten members resigned or removed. (1991)
  • Arizona Governor John Fife Symington III (R-AZ) convicted of fraud (1997)
  • Arkansas Governor James Guy Tucker, Jr. (D-AR), convicted of fraud conspiracy (1996); See related Whitewater scandal, under Federal-Level Scandals
  • Arkansas Governor William Jefferson Clinton (D-AR): See Federal-level scandals, the accusations of which followed him as US President
  • California Senator Alan Robbins (D-CA) and Senate Insurance Committee Chairman resigned on November 21, 1991, in advance of pleading guilty to federal racketeering charges in connection with insurance-industry bribes.
  • Florida Katherine Harris (R-FL) is elected to the State Senate in 1994 after receiving at least $20,000 in donations from key Riscorp employees who had been given bonuses specifically to enable their donations. Several other prominent Florida politicians were accused of writing preferential legislation that benefited Riscorp.
  • Illinois state representative James DeLeo (D-IL) caught in the "Operation Greylord" investigation of corruption in Cook County. He was indicted by a federal grand jury for taking bribes and negotiated guilty plea on a misdemeanor tax offense, and was placed on probation (1992)
  • Illinois state representative Joe Kotlarz (D-IL) convicted and sentenced to jail for theft and conspiracy for pocketing in about $200,000 for a sale of state land to a company he once served as legal counsel (1997)
  • Illinois state senator Bruce A. Farley (D-IL) sentenced to 18 months in prison for mail fraud (1999)
  • Illinois state senator John A. D’Arco Jr. (D-IL) served about 3 years in prison for bribery and extortion (1995)
  • Illinois Chicago alderman Lawrence S. Bloom (D) sentenced to 6 months in 1999 for filing a false tax return.
  • Illinois Chicago alderman Jesse J. Evans (D) sentenced to 41 months in prison in 1997 for racketeering, extortion, conspiracy, attempted extortion, mail fraud, influence peddling, filing false tax returns, and obstruction of justice.
  • Illinois Chicago alderman Virgil E. Jones Jr. (D) in 1999 was sentenced to 2 and a half years in prison for extortion.
  • Illinois Chicago alderman Joseph A. Martínez (D) in 1998 pleaded guilty to ghost payrolling and was sentenced to 5 months in prison.
  • Illinois Chicago alderman Ambrosio Medrano (D) pleaded guilty to extortion in 1996 and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
  • Illinois Chicago alderman Allan J. Streeter (D) pleaded guilty to extortion and filing false income tax returns and was sentenced to prison in 1998.
  • Illinois Chicago alderman Fred B. Roti (D) was sentenced to 48 months in 1993 for racketeering, conspiracy, bribery, among other things.
  • Illinois Chicago judge Thomas J. Maloney Jr. (D) sentenced to almost 16 years in prison for taking bribes, extortion and obstruction of justice in 1994.
  • Illinois Chicago treasurer Edward Rosewell (D) pleaded guilty to mail fraud but was not sentenced due to an illness that he died from soon after. His conviction was vacated in 1999.
  • Illinois State Treasurer Jerry Cosentino (D-IL) was convicted on federal check kiting charges (1992).
  • Kentucky Majority leader Don Blandford (D-KY), of the Kentucky House of Representatives sent to prison for taking bribes in 1992. (approximately 10% of Kentucky's legislature was implicated in this scandal, some took bribes for as little as $100).
  • Maryland State Senator Larry Young (D-MD) forced out of office despite acquittal on corruption charges (1990s)
  • Maryland Lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano (D) convicted of mail fraud in connection with campaign contributions (1990s), but later returned to lobbying in Annapolis
  • Maryland politician Ruthann Aron (R) (Montgomery County Planning Board member and former 1994 Republican candidate for U.S. Senate) who ran on a "tough on crime" platform convicted of hiring "contract" hit man William H. Mossburg Jr., in 1997, to kill her husband and a lawyer (1998)
  • Minnesota State Senator Sam Solon (D-MN) Pleaded guilty in 1995 to telecommunications fraud for letting his ex-wife make $2,430 in calls on his State Senate telephone line.
  • Nebraska State Treasurer Frank Marsh (R-NE) convicted of misdemeanor charges for making personal, long-distance telephone calls (1991)
  • New York highest court Chief Judge Sol Wachtler, scandal involving obscene telephone calls and extortion (1993)
  • Oklahoma Governor David Lee Walters (D-OK) pleaded guilty to misdemeanor election law violation (1993)
  • District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry (D-DC) caught on videotape using drugs in an FBI sting (1990)


  • Arizona Governor Evan Mecham (R-AZ) impeached and removed from office 1988, faced with recall, pending criminal charges for illegal financial dealings (of which he was later acquitted), and public outcry over his derogatory remarks about African-Americans and gays, and his cancellation of Arizona's observance of the Martin Luther King holiday (which led to a boycott of Arizona by various groups)
  • Illinois former Governor Daniel Walker (D-IL) convicted (1987) of wrongdoing in connection with Savings & Loan and sentenced to federal penitentiary
  • Illinois Operation Greylord, involving influence peddling and bribery of Circuit Court judges (1980s)
  • Maryland Governor Marvin Mandel (D-MD) convicted of mail fraud and racketeering (1977)
  • Maryland State Senator Tommie Broadwater, Jr. (D-MD), convicted of food stamp fraud (1983)
  • Nebraska Omaha Mayor Mike Boyle (D-NE) was recalled in a special election after being accused of misconduct in office (1987)
  • Nebraska Attorney General Paul Douglas (D-NE) impeached by Legislature for his dealings with the head of a failed savings and loan (1984)
  • Ohio Summit County Probate Judge James V. Barbuto corruption by trading sexual favors with female defendants for leniency in their cases, exposed on national TV by Geraldo Rivera (1980) (classified here because it was less a Sex Scandal than a "crooked judge" scandal, although Geraldo played up Judge Barbuto's preference for being spanked while wearing women's undergarments)
  • Oklahoma After his term, Governor David Hall (D-OK) convicted of criminal financial acts committed while in office (1975)
  • Oklahoma OkScam, or the County Commissioner scandal, a purchasing kickback scandal resulting in the conviction of 200 individuals, including over 2/3rds of the sitting county commissioners, representing 60 of 77 Oklahoma counties (1981-1984)
  • Pennsylvania State Treasurer Budd Dwyer (R-PA) committed suicide on television before he was to be sentenced on bribery and related convictions (1987)
  • Tennessee Governor Ray Blanton (D-TN) (1976-1979) lost his reelection bid after exposure of a bribery scandal. Just before leaving office, he issued a large number of pardons to convicted felons, apparently in exchange for bribes. His successor was sworn in ahead of schedule in order to terminate Blanton's issuance of pardons.
  • Tennessee: Operation Rocky Top, launched in 1986, was a three-year FBI and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation undercover investigation into bribery of state officials and other illegal activities related to charity bingo. It resulted in the December 1989 suicide of the Tennessee Secretary of State, Gentry Crowell (D-TN), and the incarceration of several other politicians, most notably state House Majority Leader Tommy Burnett (D-TN).


  • Illinois Auditor of Public Accounts Orville Hodge (R) pleaded guilty to bank fraud, embezzlement and forgery and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1956.
  • Illinois Governor Otto Kerner (D-IL) was convicted of bribery, conspiracy, income-tax evasion, mail fraud and perjury in connection with money he earned from racetrack stock (1973)
  • Illinois Secretary of State Paul Powell (D-IL) was found with $800,000 in cash in a shoebox in his hotel room. He died in 1970 and was never convicted (1970)
  • Louisiana Governor Earl Long (D-LA) committed to insane asylum while in office (1959)
  • Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew (R-MD) (see Federal-level Scandals}, as he was not convicted until after he became Nixon's VP) Convicted (1973)

  • New Hampshire former Governor Llewelyn Sherman Adams (R-NH), Chief of Staff to President Eisenhower, forced from office in "Vicuna Coat" scandal involving giving special favors to givers of gifts (1958)
  • Ohio Cincinnati City Council member (and later Mayor) Jerry Springer (D) resigned (1974) after vice investigation uncovered personal check he had paid a prostitute
  • Texas George Parr (D), the so-called "Duke of Duval County," suspected but never convicted of various illegal activities, including ballot box stuffing and fraud (1905-1975)
  • Texas The Veterans Land Board Scandal tainted many prominent state politicians, including Governor Allan Shivers (D-TX) in (1954)
  • Texas Sharpstown scandal (1971-1972)


  • California San Francisco Mayor Eugene Edward Schmitz convicted of graft and bribery, including misconduct during the Great Earthquake (1906-1907); convictions later overturned on appeal.
  • Illinois Governor Lennington Small (R-IL), indicted for corruption, but not convicted (1924-1929)
  • Indiana Governor Warren McCray (R-IN): forced to resign after conviction for mail fraud (1924)
  • Indiana Governor Edward F. Jackson (R-IN): taking bribes and trying to bribe a previous Governor on behalf of the Ku Klux Klan (1928)
  • Missouri Thomas J. Pendergast (D-MO) "machine boss" in Kansas City convicted of tax fraud (1939)
  • New York Tammany Hall, Democratic Party political machine (1854-1934) See Federal-level scandals, because the influence of the New York City political machine was felt at the national level
  • North Dakota Governor William Langer (R-ND) removed from office (1934) for alleged racketeering
  • Oklahoma Governor John C. Walton (D-OK) impeached and removed (1923)
  • Oklahoma Governor Henry S. Johnston (D-OK) impeached twice, second time convicted and removed (1928-1929)
  • Texas Governor James Edward Ferguson (D-TX) impeached and removed from office for financial misconduct (1917)
  • Texas Governor Miriam "Ma" Ferguson (D-TX), first woman elected Governor of a state in the U.S. and wife of the removed ex-governor, was implicated in the same financial improprieties that had brought "Pa" down and lost the Democratic primary in 1926

19th century

  • Arkansas Governor Powell Clayton (R-AR) investigated for corruption but cleared (1868-1871)
  • Florida Governor Harrison Reed (R-FL) subjected to three separate impeachment inquiries (1868-1872)
  • Kansas Governor Charles Robinson (R-KS) impeached but acquitted of state bond scheme (1862)
  • Kentucky State Treasurer James "Honest Dick" Tate (D-KY) ran off with the entire state treasury and was impeached (1888)
  • Kentucky 1899 gubernatorial election dispute leading to armed conflict and assassination of William Goebel (D-KY) (1900)
  • Mississippi Governor John A. Quitman (D-MS) resigned (1851) after indictment for violation of Neutrality Act in connection with Cuban insurrection against Spain (later acquitted of charges)
  • Nebraska Governor David C. Butler (R-NE) impeached and removed from office (1871)
  • North Carolina Governor William Woods Holden (R-NC) impeached and removed from office in corruption scandal (1870)
  • Dakota Territorial Governor Nehemiah Ordway (R) corruption (1884) See Federal-level scandals.
  • Oregon Governor La Fayette Grover (D-OR) (later U.S. Senator) implicated, but eventually exonerated, in vote-rigging scheme to give Oregon's electoral votes in the 1876 presidential election to Samuel Tilden (D)
  • Wisconsin Governor William Augustus Barstow (D-WI) resigned 1856 amid investigation of corrupt business practices and election wrongdoing

Date needed

  • Illinois Chicago alderman "Bathhouse John" Coughlin graft operation with fellow alderman Michael "Hinky Dink" Kenna, the so-called "Lords of the Levee" extracting protection payments from gambling and prostitution.
  • Illinois Chicago Mayor William Hale Thompson (R), years of ongoing corruption
  • Illinois Chicago city clerk Walter S. Kozubowski (D) was sentenced to 5 years in prison for mail fraud.
  • Illinois Chicago alderman John S. Madrzyk (D) sentenced to 41 months in prison for mail fraud.
  • Illinois Chicago City Treasurer Miriam Santos (D) originally sentenced to 40 months for extortion and mail fraud but the sentence was overturned on appeal. She subsequently pleaded guilty to mail fraud and sentenced to 3 months, only served 17 days in prison.
  • Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White (D-IL) introduced secretary and friend Donna Lumpkins Floyd to numerous legislators, and encouraged them to give $175,000 of the taxpayers' money to her charity. However, there was no charity, and Floyd said that White destroyed all transaction records. After an investigation, the Illinois State Board of Elections fined White $800,000.
  • Louisiana In what was called the Louisiana Scandals, Governor Richard W. Leche (D-LA) (and others including the LSU president) were convicted of corruption relating to the influence of the followers of Huey Long (D-LA) and the Long family.
  • Maryland Lobbyist Gerard E. Evans (D) convicted of fraud after dummying up legislation and collecting fees from clients to fight it
  • Maryland Banker Nathan A. Chapman Jr. found guilty of defrauding the state retirement system.
  • Maryland Police Superintendent Edward T. Norris convicted of spending police money for personal uses while Baltimore's police chief
  • Massachusetts politician James Michael Curley (D-MA), convictions on various allegations of corruption
  • Minnesota Democratic consultant and businessman Pat Forciea (D) convicted of extensive bank fraud charges
  • New Jersey Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague (D-NJ) resigned as mayor amid accusations of widespread corruption; resigns other party offices later on
  • New York Lee Alexander (D-NY), Syracuse mayor, pleaded guilty to racketeering and tax evasion. Served 6 years in prison.
  • New York Alan Hevesi (D-NY) Comptroller of New York pleaded guilty to one count of defrauding the government
  • New York Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) Governor of New York and former "crime-busting" U.S. District Attorney (cross-reference federal??) admitted (March 10, 2008)

his involvement with prostitution--SEE under Sex Scandals.

Sex scandals

A list of America's Top 53 Political Sex Scandals lists Bill Clinton as #1, Gary Hart as #2, James E. McGreevey as #3, Wilbur Mills as #4, Bob Packwood as #5, Grover Cleveland as #6, Gary Condit as #7, Mel Reynolds as #8, Neil Goldschmidt as #9, and Brock Adams as #10.




  • Neil Goldschmidt (D-OR) former Oregon governor - affair with underage female, 1970s
  • Wilbur Mills (D-AR) - Fanne Foxe scandal (1974)
  • Wayne Hays (D-OH) - Elizabeth Ray scandal (1976)
  • John Young (D-TX) - a former female staffer said that she received a pay raise after giving in to Young's sexual advances (1976)
  • Allan Howe (D-UT) - arrested for soliciting two police officers posing as prostitutes (1976)
  • Fred Richmond (D-NY) - charged with soliciting sex from a 16-year-old boy (1978)


  • Robert Bauman (R-MD) - charged with attempting to solicit sex from a 16-year-old male prostitute (1980)
  • Jon Hinson (R-MS) charged with attempted oral sodomy of a male Library of Congress employee (1981)
  • Thomas Evans (R-DE) - Paula Parkinson (1981)
  • John G. Schmitz (R-CA) - extramarital affair resulting in offspring (1982)
  • Gerry Studds (D-MA) and Dan Crane (R-IL) are censured July 20, 1983 in Congressional Page sex scandal (1983)
  • Gary Hart (D-CO) - Donna Rice scandal (1987)
  • Ernie Konnyu (R-CA) - sexual harassment complaints by two female staffers (1987)
  • Brock Adams (D-WA) eight women accused Adams of committing various acts of sexual misconduct, ranging from sexual harassment to rape (1988)
  • Richard Garner (R-Candidate CA) admitted to molesting his daughters
  • Paul Ingram (R-WA) Paul Ingram accused by his daughters of sexual abuse, by at least one daughter of satanic ritual abuse [1], and later accused by his son in 1988.
  • Jim Bates (D-CA) made sexual advances toward female staffers (1988)
  • Gus Savage (D-IL) accused of trying to force himself on a female Peace Corps worker in Zaire (1989)
  • Barney Frank (D-MA) reprimanded by the House when Steve Gobie, a male escort whom Frank met after hiring him through a personal advertisement, claimed to have conducted an escort service from Frank's apartment when he was not at home (1989)
  • Donald "Buz" Lukens (R-OH) - accused of having sexual relations with a 16 year-old girl (1989) and was accused of fondling a woman in an elevator (1990)


  • Arlan Stangeland (R-MN) accused of mading long-distance phone calls using a House credit card to a female lobbyist (1990)
  • Chuck Robb (D-VA) - Tai Collins affair (1991)
  • Clarence Thomas (R) Supreme Court nominee accused by Anita Hill of sexual harassment(1991)
  • Robert Packwood Senator (R-OR) was forced to resign his office when his vehement denials of any wrongdoing (after 29 women came forward with claims of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and sexual assaults) were eventually contradicted by his own lurid diaries boasting of his sexual conquests. (1995)
  • Mel Reynolds (D-IL) - indicted for sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse for a relationship with a 16-year-old campaign volunteer (1994), and was convicted of 12 counts of sexual assault, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography (1995)
  • Henry Hyde (R-IL) - "youthful indiscretion" (1998)
  • Bob Barr (R-GA) - sexual hypocrisy alleged by Larry Flynt (1998)
  • President Bill Clinton (D-AR) - Monica Lewinsky scandal (1998)
  • Newt Gingrich (R-GA)Speaker of the House and chief architect of the Republican Revolution, loudly criticized Bill Clinton. While married to his 2nd wife Marianne Ginther, he began an affair with Callista Bisek whom he later married.
  • Robert Livingston, (R-LA) Speaker of the House, Prosecuted Bill Clinton, until Hustler offered 1KK for infidelity information on him, where upon he abruptly resigned.
  • Henry Hyde (R-IL) Chief prosecutor of bill Clinton, though he himself had committed adultery when in his 40’s. It was described as a “youthful indiscretion.”
  • Helen Chenoweth-Hage (R-ID a strong critic of Bill Clinton’s affair through she later admitted that she herself had an affair with a married man in the 1980’s.
  • Ken Calvert (R-CA) - arrested for soliciting a prostitute; had oral sex in a car with her (1993)


  • Gary Condit (D-CA) - affair with intern Chandra Levy (2001)
  • Paul Patton (D-KY) Kentucky Governor - affair; became public after former mistress alleged retaliation against her business (2002)
  • Steven C. LaTourette (R-OH) - affair with staffer (2003)
  • Bob Wise (D-WV) West Virginia Governor - affair with state employee (2003)
  • The Washingtonienne scandal (2004)
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) California Governor - admitted to inappropriate conduct with women when he was an actor and professional bodybuilder "on rowdy movie sets."
  • Jack Ryan (R) Illinois U.S. Senate candidate - sex scandal with ex-wife (2004)
  • Ed Schrock (R-VA) - alleged to have ran a personal column for men wanting to meet other men (2004)
  • Don Sherwood (R-PA) - Extramarital affair with accusations of abuse (2004)
  • Jim McGreevey (D-NJ) New Jersey Governor - ; closeted homosexual extramarital affair (2004)
  • Kevin Shelley (D-CA) California Secretary of State - a number of former staffers and other associates accused Shelley of abusive behavior, including sexually explicit gestures and remarks (2004)
  • Jim West (R) Mayor of Spokane, WA - faced charges of child molestation and misuse of his office for sexual favors with young men (2005)
  • Roosevelt Dobbins (D-AR) - pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment for fondling a teenager (2005)
  • Jeff Gannon (AKA Jim Guckert) was a fake White House correspondent who also turned out to be a special kind of "military escort", with records showing he visited the White House about 200 times and was also a gay prostitute. (2005)
  • Mark Foley (R-FL) - accused of sending sexually explicit e-mails to underage male congressional pages (2006)
  • D.C. Madam Scandal; Prostitution ring centering around Deborah Jeane Palfrey (2007)
    • David Vitter (R-LA) who accused Clinton of infidelity, was discovered in the numbers book of Palfrey
    • Randall L. Tobias, Deputy Secretary of State, resigned April 27, 2007 after confirming he had been a customer of the DC Madam, Deborah Palfrey.
  • Gavin Newsom (D-CA) San Francisco Mayor - accused of extramarital affair with wife of campaign manager and former deputy chief-of-staff Alex Tourk (2007)
  • Bob Allen (R-FL) - busted for solicitation of a police officer in public men's room, claimed he did it out of a racist panic (2007)
  • Antonio Villaraigosa (D-CA) Los Angeles Mayor - extramarital affair (2004), affair with Spanish-language television reporter Mirthala Salinas (2007)
  • Glenn Murphy Jr. (R) - 33 year-old president of the Young Republican National Federation, under investigation for sexual assault of a sleeping 22 year-old man (2007)
  • Richard Curtis (R-WA) - blackmailed and outed by a male prostitute after he didn't reveal his gay lifestyle (2007)
  • Larry Craig (R-ID) - pled guilty to disorderly conduct in a Minneapolis airport men's room in June, after having been arrested on a charge of lewd conduct (2007)
  • John Burton (D-CA) former California Senate Pro Tempore - accused of sexual harassment by a female employee at his charity organization (2008)
  • Kwame Kilpatrick (D-MI) Detroit Mayor - extramarital affair with his Chief-of-Staff, Christine Beatty. Racy text messages between them uncovered by the press contradicted their sworn denials of an affair. Also alleged to have stayed at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC with a woman named Carmen Slowsky, who was not his wife (2008)
  • Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) New York Governor - went through a prostitution service called Emperors Club VIP where he allegedly met with a prostitute in a Washington, DC hotel. He was linked to the prostitution ring by a wiretap of his cell phone (2008)
  • Paul J. Morrison (D-KS) Kansas Attorney General - extramarital affair with an office administrator, sexual harassment claim filed with the EEOC alleging that Morrison pressured the administrator to obtain sensitive information about district attorney Phill Kline and several pending investigations at the district attorney's office.
  • Marc Dann (D-OH) Ohio Attorney General - extramarital affair, sexual harassment, and other unlawful acts perpetrated by Dann's employees.
  • Vito Fossella (R-NY) Arrested for drunk driving, Fossella admitted to having an affair with Laura Fay, with whom he has a 3 year old daughter. He is currently married to Mary Patricia nee’ Rowan with whom he has 3 children.(2008)
  • John Edwards Senator (D-NC) Former 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidate - admitted to an extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter while his wife was battling cancer, but denies that he fathered Hunter's child (August 8, 2008)

See also



Grossman, Mark. Political Corruption in America: An Encyclopedia of Scandals, Power, and Greed. (2003).

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