8 biggest political scandals since 2006

Politics, Bizarre, NakedLaw, News

It’s like a tragedy writ large, a seemingly scripted series of events that wreck an otherwise promising political career and shock the nation.

In some cases, there are hints at the start of a politician’s career that things could go awry (Bill Clinton comes to mind). And then there are those “didn’t see that coming” moments. Just last week former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for accepting bribes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

These political dramas remind us that even the most brilliant or likeable politicians can be wooed by the lure of money, power and sex. Here, we take a look at some of the biggest scandals involving politicians in recent U.S. history.

8. John Edwards. This 2008 presidential candidate was a rising star, even landing on President Barack Obama’s short list for vice president. Then came allegations of a secret love child. Eventually, it was revealed that Edwards had cheated on his wife, who was battling cancer, and lied to the press. Edwards was indicted for charges including misuse of campaign funds, which he used to cover up his affair and subsequent child. The trial, however, ended in an acquittal and a mistrial. Edwards has been pretty much off the radar since his departure from the 2008 campaign.

7. Larry Craig. In one of the most bizarre sex scandals in recent memory, Sen. Larry Craig pleaded guilty in 2007 to a disorderly conduct charge, stemming from an incident in a restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. The now-famous incident involved foot tapping, supposedly code signaling willingness to engage in lewd conduct, and an arrest by a plainclothes officer. Craig served out his term but did not seek reelection.

6. Jack Abramoff. Often called a “super lobbyist” for his exceptional performance, Abramoff was a star on Capitol Hill who influenced the passage of numerous bills and served as an aid to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. He also gave all lobbyists a bad name when he pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials in 2006. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

5. Eliot Spitzer. In a case that made countless tabloid covers, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s penchant for prostitutes was exposed. Spitzer spent around $80,000 on a high-end escort service known as the Emperor’s Club VIP before the IRS discovered unusual activity. Spitzer resigned from office in 2008.

4. Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich served as governor of Illinois from 2003-09. In 2008, when Barack Obama’s senate seat became vacant with two years left in the senate term, Blagojevich was left in charge of appointing a replacement. Blagojevich’s plan? To sell the seat to the highest bidder. As a result, the former governor was charged with conspiracy and soliciting bribes. He is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence.

3. Anthony Weiner. One of the most passionate and vociferous state representatives, Anthony Weiner set his sights on the national political stage as mayor of New York or even, eventually, as president. But he had a sexting problem, which forced him to resign in 2011. Two years later, he staged a highly publicized comeback that included a mayoral run, only to be exposed in yet another sexting scandal.

2. Ray Nagin. The former mayor of New Orleans was sentenced last week to 10 years in prison on corruption charges. Nagin was mayor from 2002-10, leading the city through Hurricane Katrina and reconstruction after the storm. Unfortunately, any positive outcome from his leadership will be footnoted by the fact that he accepted bribes and kickbacks from companies hoping to secure city contracts. Nagin’s attorneys have filed an appeal.

1. Kwame Kilpatrick. At 31, the youngest mayor in the city of Detroit’s history was also its most reckless. His downfall had all the trappings of cable network drama, including an affair, corruption, a dead stripper and the exchange of “salacious text messages” with his chief of staff. In 2013, he was sentenced to 28 years in prison for charges that included extortion and racketeering. Kilpatrick’s eventual conviction and Detroit’s subsequent bankruptcy filing, though not actually tied, both made national headlines

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