Politics can be quite a dirty business, leading
to some of the biggest scandals in history. Because of the many perks that are included,
such as fame, power, money, and honor, there are certain politicians that cannot control
themselves and give in to the temptations of corruption and greed. There are others
that are falsely accused or claims falsely exaggerated, but the scandal remains. Whether
Democrat or Republican, some of the more common scandals have to do with extramarital affairs,
excessive use of funds, improper utilization of taxes, and more. While these are far from
the only political scandals, these were some of the most newsworthy and influential scandals
of their time. I’m Mike with List25 and Here are the 25 Biggest Political Scandals In History
that truly stand out. 25.
The Profumo Affair was a 1963 British political scandal named after John Profumo, Secretary
of State for War. His affair with Christine Keeler, the reputed mistress of an alleged
Soviet spy, followed by his lying in the House of Commons when he was questioned about it,
forced his resignation and damaged the reputation of Prime Minister Harold Macmillanâ€™s
government. Macmillan himself resigned a few months later because of ill health. 24.
Wilbur Mills was a popular US congressman, but things fell apart for him after getting
a DUI right after engaging in a scuffle with Argentinean stripper, Fanne Fox. To make things
even more comical, when he was pulled over, she was actually with him in the car. Before
the police officer could even say a word, however, she jumped out the back and dove
into a drainage ditch, after which she was taken to a mental hospital and left Wilbur
with some serious explaining to do. 23.
The Keating Five were five US Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political
scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 80’s. Basically they
had prevented Charles Keating, Chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association,
from being audited in return for receiving campaign funding. Unfortunately for everybody
else in America, the association collapsed under the corruption, causing billions of
dollars worth of damages and ruining the senators’ reputations. 22.
From June 18-24, 2009, the whereabouts of politician Mark Sanford were unknown to the
public, as well as to his wife and the State Law Enforcement Division, which provided security
for him. He had told his staff that he would be hiking the Appalachian Trial but failed
to answer any phone calls. Not long afterwards, however, reporter Gina Smith ran into him
at the airport in Atlanta returning from Argentina. Apparently he had a mistress and had decided
to go pay her a visit. 21.
Long before his picture perfect royal wedding, Prince Harry attended a private party and
was photographed wearing an armband with a Nazi insignia. While this was only one of
many scandals the hard-partying prince was caught up in during his adolescence, it was
the most memorable for many, and led to an official apology by the prince and palace. 20.
In the Chappaquiddick incident on July 18, 1969, Mary Jo Kopechne, a female passenger
of U.S. Senator Edward M. â€œTedâ€ Kennedy, was killed when he accidentally drove
his car off a bridge and into a tidal channel on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts. Kennedy
swam free and left the scene but Kopechne died in the vehicle. Early the next day, Kopechneâ€™s
body and the car were recovered. Kennedy pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of
an accident after causing injury and received a two-month suspended jail sentence. The incident
became a national scandal, and may have influenced Kennedyâ€™s decision not to campaign
for President in ’72 and ’76. 19.
Although PresidentÂ Chen Shui-bian wanted to see a strong and independent Taiwan, his
familyâ€™s (and his own) lack of self control managed to undermine many of his positions.
His son-in-law was caught money laundering and insider trading, his wife wired over $21
million to various banks in the world, and he was arrested after his resignation for
embezzlement of funds and receiving bribes. High aspirations donâ€™t necessarily
make good leaders. 18.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was involved in a lot of messes in his 17 years
in office. He was known as a playboy, fraud, swindler, and gangster. Basically anything
badâ€¦thatâ€™s what he was. The most famous of his escapades, however, were probably
the huge promiscuous parties he threw that have come to be known by the nonsensical term
bunga bunga. 17.
Moshe Katsav, former President of Israel, was accused of raping and sexually harassing
up to ten women. While he was still in office, police raided his house and seized computers
and documents. There were calls for him to resign or suspend himself from the presidency
which he refused to do. After stepping down, however, he lost his presidential immunity
and was promptly convicted of the crimes, only to be released five years into his seven
year term. 16.
When North Dakota Governor William Langer took office in 1932, he and five co-conspirators
required all state employees to donate part of their annual salaries to their political
party. This wasn’t prohibited by state law and was a common, traditional practice. However,
when donations were made by highway department employees, who were paid through federal relief
programs, the US attorney charged that the donations constituted a conspiracy to defraud
the federal government. Langer and his colleagues were eventually brought to court. Although
he was convicted of a felony and told to resign as governor, he ended up declaring North Dakota
independent, instituting martial law, and barricading himself in the governorâ€™s
mansion until the Supreme Court would meet with him. Eventually, a settlement was reached
and a new governor was chosen. 15.
The election between George Bush and Al Gore was plagued with issues, but it wasnâ€™t
until Florida bungled its voting system that the trouble really began. With the world watching,
Florida was in the spotlight until the courts stepped in and chose President Bush. 14.
Gary Condit, a former representative from California, was reported to have an affair
with Chandra Levy, an intern at his Washinton DC office. After she disappeared, he admitted
to the affair but denied anything to do with her disappearance. He was cleared as a suspect,
however, when Chandraâ€™s body was found and police determine that Ingmar Guandique,
a Salvadorian immigrant, was responsible. However, charges against Guandique were later
dismissed for lack of evidence. 13.
On September 28, 2006, ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross reported that in
2005, congressman Mark Foley had sent email messages from his personal AOL account to
a former Congressional page, asking the page to send a photo of himself to Foley, among
other things. Foleyâ€™s office confirmed that Foley had sent the messages but said
it has a practice of asking for photos of individuals who may ask for recommendations
and that the page had requested a recommendation. Eventually, however, other pages ended up
coming forward and led to a severely tarnished reputation. 12.
Once thought to be an anti-apartheid hero, former South African President Jacob Zuma
fell from grace after multiple scandals hit his nine-year presidency. Most pronounced
was his relationship with the Gupta business family, which was reportedly responsible for
him rapidly hiring and firing finance ministers, leading to a decline in South Africa’s credit
ratings. In 2017, South Africa’s high court voted to reinstate 783 charges of corruption
and fraud against the president, leading to his resignation in February 2018. 11.
Although the National Enquirer isnâ€™t known as the most legitimate news source,
they did manage to spill the beans on Presidential hopeful and Senator John Edwards’ affair with
videographerÂ Rielle Hunter. The scandal was further complicated by Edwards’ use of
campaign funds to cover up the affair, his wife’s terminal breast cancer, and his admission
that he fathered a child with Hunter. 10.
According to published reports, investigators believe Elliot Spitzer paid up to $80,000
for prostitutes over a period of several years while he was Attorney General, and later as
Governor. Spitzer first drew the attention of federal investigators when his bank reported
suspicious money transfers, which initially led investigators to believe that Spitzer
may have been hiding bribe proceeds. The investigation of the governor led to the discovery of the
prostitution ring, after which he obviously resigned. 9.
Throughout his campaign and much of his presidency,Â President Obama faced wide spread rumors and
controversy regarding the validity of his Hawaiian birth certificate. While the release
of his short and long form birth certificates proved his Hawaiian birth, many conspiracy
theorists believe these certificates are forgeries. 8.
Infamous for his firm denial and then subsequent admission of having an affair with 22-year-old
White House aid Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton faced impeachment on the grounds of perjury
and obstruction of justice, although he was later acquitted. 7.
Suspecting Louisiana congressman William Jefferson of bribery, the FBI raided his offices in
May 2006, but he was re-elected later that year. On June 4, 2007, however, a federal
grand jury indicted Jefferson on sixteen felony charges related to corruption which led to
a 13-year prison sentence. The FBI’s search of Jefferson’s office was the first of its
kind and was disputed all the way to the Supreme Court – changing the way congressional investigations
can be conducted. 6.
In the era of the #MeToo movement, widespread reports began to come to light regarding sexual
harassment within the US government. One of the most shocking results of this newfound
attention was that tax-payers were funding settlements for sexual harassment against
congressmen and that all victims of sexual harassment in congress were made to sign an
agreement barring them from talking about the harassment. Due to this attention, congressional
policies and general public opinion has drastically changed. 5.
On July 14, 2003, Washington Post journalist Robert Novak, from information obtained from
Richard Armitage at the US State Department, effectively ended Valerie Plameâ€™s career
with the CIA (from which she later resigned in December 2005) by revealing in his column
her identity as a CIA operative. Lewis â€œScooterâ€ Libby, adviser to then Vice President Dick
Cheney, was eventually determined to the be source of the leak and subsequently charged.
This led to a widespread discussion regarding the safety and security of confidential operatives. 4.
In 2013, it was reported that while Secretary of State, Secretary Hillary Clinton used a
private email server in addition to her secured government server for official government
business. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Secretary Clinton was investigated for her
use of this server for handling classified information. While the investigation led to
no charges, the political fury during the election and the later investigations into
how the investigation was handled make this a scandal that is still talked about today. 3.
After the conclusion of the 2016 Presidential Election, a joint task force of the FBI, CIA,
NSA, and the Department of Homeland security found that Russia had intentionally interfered
with the US Presidential election with the intention of improving Donald Trump’s chances
of winning. While it is now well accepted that Russia did interfere with the election,
the resulting special counsel investigation into whether or not President Trump’s campaign
was aware of Russia’s involvement is still open, making this our largest unresolved political
scandal on this list. 2.
Also referred to as Irangate, the Iranâ€“Contra Affair involved US President Ronald Reaganâ€™s
senior administration officials secretly facilitating the sale of arms to Iran, the subject of an
arms embargo. They had hoped that the arms sales would secure the release of hostages
and allow U.S. intelligence agencies to fund the Nicaraguan Contras. Unfortunately for
them, the plan was uncovered and led to a huge international mess. 1.
The Watergate scandal blew up after the June 1972 break in at the Democratic National Committee
headquarters in the Watergate office complex of Washington DC. The Nixon administration
initially attempted to cover-up its involvement, but it eventually led to Nixon’s resignation,
the first and only presidential resignation to date. There is still no conclusive understanding
of what they were actually trying to accomplish with the break in. Enjoying our lists? Be sure to click that
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