List of federal political scandals in the United States
2009– Obama Administration
• Joe Wilson (R-SC) The congressman from South Carolina interrupted a major televised speech about health care reform by President Barack Obama to a joint session of Congress. After Obama said that no illegal aliens would be accepted under his health plan, Rep. Wilson shouted, “You lie!” The incident resulted in a formal rebuke by the House of Representatives. He later admitted that the outburst was “inappropriate”. (2009)
• Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) Rep. Rangel was found guilty on 11 charges by the House Ethics Committee. On December 2, 2010, the full House of Representatives voted 333-79 to censure Rangel.
• Tom DeLay (R-TX) On November 24, 2010 a Texas jury convicted DeLay of money laundering connected to the Jack Abramoff scandal. On January 10, 2011, he was sentenced to three years of prison in Texas.
• G. Thomas Porteous The Federal Judge for Eastern Louisiana was unanimously impeached by the US House of Representatives on charges of corruption and perjury in March 2010. He was not convicted by the US Senate and removed from office. He had been appointed by Bill Clinton. (2010)
• Samuel B. Kent The Federal District Judge of Galveston, Texas was sentenced to 33 months in prison for lying about sexually harassing two female employees. He had been appointed to office by George H. W. Bush in 1990. (2009)
2001–2008 George W. Bush Administration
• Lewis Libby (R) Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney (R), was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the Plame Affair on March 6, 2007. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000. The sentence was commuted by George W. Bush (R) on July 1, 2007. The felony remains on Libby’s record though the jail time and fine were commuted.
• Alphonso Jackson (R) The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development resigned while under investigation by the FBI for revoking the contract of a vendor who told Jackson he did not like President George W. Bush (R) (2008)
• Karl Rove (R) Senior Adviser to President George W. Bush was investigated by the Office of Special Counsel for “improper political influence over government decision-making”, as well as for his involvement in several other scandals such as Lawyergate, Bush White House e-mail controversy and Plame affair. He resigned in April 2007. (See Karl Rove in the George W. Bush administration)
• “Lawyergate” Or the Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy refers to President Bush firing, without explanation, eleven Republican federal prosecutors whom he himself had appointed. It is alleged they were fired for prosecuting Republicans and not prosecuting Democrats. When Congressional hearings were called, a number of senior Justice Department officials cited executive privilege and refused to testify under oath, including:
1. Michael A. Battle (R) Director of Executive Office of US Attorneys in the Justice Department.
2. Bradley Schlozman (R) Director of Executive Office of US Attorneys who replaced Battle
3. Michael Elston (R) Chief of Staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty
4. Paul McNulty (R) Deputy Attorney General to William Mercer
5. William W. Mercer (R) Associate Attorney General to Alberto Gonzales
6. Kyle Sampson (R) Chief of Staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
7. Alberto Gonzales (R) Attorney General of the United States
8. Monica Goodling (R) Liaison between President Bush and the Justice Department
9. Joshua Bolten (R) Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bush was found in Contempt of Congress
10. Sara M. Taylor (R) Aid to Presidential Advisor Karl Rove
11. Karl Rove (R) Advisor to President Bush
12. Harriet Miers (R) Legal Counsel to President Bush, was found in Contempt of Congress
• Bush White House e-mail controversy – During the Lawyergate investigation it was discovered that the Bush administration used Republican National Committee (RNC) web servers for millions of emails which were then destroyed, lost or deleted in possible violation of the Presidential Records Act and the Hatch Act. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Andrew Card, Sara Taylor and Scott Jennings all used RNC webservers for the majority of their emails. Of 88 officials, no emails at all were discovered for 51 of them. As many as 5 million e-mails requested by Congressional investigators of other Bush administration scandals were therefore unavailable, lost, or deleted.
• 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. Among other things she asked GSA employees how they could “help Republican candidates.”
• Jack Abramoff Scandal in which the prominent lobbyist with close ties to Republican administration officials and legislators offered bribes as part of his lobbying efforts. Abramhoff was sentenced to 4 years in prison. See Legislative scandals.
1. David Safavian GSA (General Services Administration) Chief of Staff, found guilty of blocking justice and lying and sentenced to 18 months
2. Roger Stillwell (R) Staff in the Department of the Interior under George W. Bush. Pleaded guilty and received two years suspended sentence.
3. Susan B. Ralston (R) Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to Karl Rove, resigned October 6, 2006 after it became known that she accepted gifts and passed information to her former boss Jack Abramoff.
4. J. Steven Griles (R) former Deputy to the Secretary of the Interior pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and was sentenced to 10 months.
5. Italia Federici (R) staff to the Secretary of Interior, and President of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, pled guilty to tax evasion and obstruction of justice. She was sentenced to four years probation.
6. Jared Carpenter (R) Vice-President of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, was discovered during the Abramoff investigation and pled guilty to income tax evasion. He got 45 days, plus 4 years probation.
7. Michael Scanlon (R) former staff to Tom DeLay: working for Abramoff, pleaded guilty to bribery.
8. Tony Rudy (R) former staff to Tom DeLay, pleaded guilty to conspiracy.
9. Bob Ney (R-OH) bribed by Abramoff, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, sentenced to 30 months.
10. Neil Volz (R) former staff to Robert Ney, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in 2006 charges stemming from his work for Bob Ney. In 2007 he was sentenced to two years probation, 100 hours community service, and a fine of $2,000.
11. Mark Zachares (R) staff in the Department of Labor, bribed by Abramoff, guilty of conspiracy to defraud.
12. Robert E. Coughlin (R) Deputy Chief of Staff, Crimianl Division of the Justice Department pleaded guilty to conflict of interest after accepting bribes from Jack Abramoff. (2008)
13. William Heaton (R), former chief of staff for Bob Ney (R), pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge involving a golf trip to Scotland, expensive meals, and tickets to sporting events between 2002 and 2004 as payoffs for helping Abramoff’s clients.
14. Kevin A. Ring (R) former staff to John Doolittle (R-CA) indicted on 8 counts of corruption. The judge declared a mistrial.
15. John Albaugh (R) former chief of staff to Ernest Istook (R-OK) pled guilty to accepting bribes connected to the Federal Highway Bill. Istook was not charged. (2008)
16. James Hirni, (R) former staff to Tim Hutchinson (R-AR) was charged with wire fraud for giving a staffer for Don Young (R) of Alaska a bribe in exchange for amendments to the Federal Highway Bill. (2008)
• Kyle Foggo Executive director of the CIA was convicted of honest services fraud in the awarding of a government contract and sentenced to 37 months in federal prison at Pine Knot, Kentucky. On September 29, 2008, Foggo pleaded guilty to one count of the indictment, admitting that while he was the CIA executive director, he acted to steer a CIA contract to the firm of his lifelong friend, Brent R. Wilkes.
• Julie MacDonald (R) Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior, resigned May 1, 2007 after giving government documents to developers (2007)
• Claude Allen (R) Appointed as an advisor by President Bush on Domestic Policy, Allen was arrested for a series of felony thefts in retail stores. He was convicted on one count and resigned soon after.
• Lester Crawford (R) Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, resigned after 2 months. Pled guilty to conflict of interest and received 3 years suspended sentence and fined $90,000 (2006)
• 2003 Invasion of Iraq depended on intelligence that Saddam Hussein was developing “weapons of mass destruction” (WMDs) meaning nuclear, chemical and/or biological weapons for offensive use. The Downing Street memo were minutes of a British secret meeting with the US (dated 23 July 2002, leaked 2005) which include a 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” This was called the ‘smoking gun’ concerning W. Bush’s run up to war with Iraq.(2005)
• Yellowcake forgery: Just prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration presented evidence to the UN that Iraq was seeking material (yellowcake uranium) in Africa for making nuclear weapons. Though presented as true, it was later found to be not only dubious, but outright false.
• Bush administration payment of columnists with federal funds to say nice things about Republican policies. Illegal payments were made to journalists Armstrong Williams (R), Maggie Gallagher (R) and Michael McManus (R) (2004–2005)
• Sandy Berger (D) former Clinton security adviser pleads guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully removing classified documents from the National Archives in (2005)
• Bernard Kerik (R) nomination in 2004 as Secretary of Homeland Security was derailed by past employment of an illegal alien as a nanny, and other improprieties. On Nov 4, 2009 he pled quilty to two counts of tax fraud and five counts of lying to the federal government(2009) and was sentenced to four years in prison.
• Torture: Top US officials including George W. Bush and Dick Cheney authorized enhanced interogation techniques of prisoners, including waterboarding (called torture by many) by US troops and the CIA in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. In 2010 Bush stated “He’d do it again…” and Cheney stated on ABC’s This Week, “I was a big supporter of waterboarding.” (2004)
• Christine Todd Whitman (R), was appointed head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by George W. Bush on January 31, 2001. Under her direction the EPA produced a report detailing the expected effects of global warming in the United States. The report was dismissed by Bush as the work of “the bureaucracy.” On June 27, 2003 after having several more public conflicts with the Bush administration, Whitman resigned from her position to spend more time with her family.
• Plame affair (2004), in which CIA agent Valerie Plame’s name was leaked to the press in retaliation for her husband’s criticism of the reports used by George W. Bush to legitimaize the Iraq war.
• Thomas A. Scully, (R) administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), withheld information from Congress about the projected cost of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, and allegedly threatened to fire Medicare’s chief actuary, Richard Foster, if Foster provided the data to Congress. (2003) Scully resigned on December 16, 2003.
• NSA warrantless surveillance Shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001, President George W. Bush (R) implemented a secret program by the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on domestic telephone calls by American citizens without warrants, thus by-passing the FISA court which must approve all such actions. (2002) In 2010, Federal Judge Vaughn Walker ruled this practice to be illegal.
• Enron collapse (2002) leading to investigation of its CEO Kenneth Lay (R), a former member of the Republican National Committee and once considered a possible pick for Secretary of the Treasury, was a top political ally and financial donor to President George W. Bush. Lay was found guilty of 10 counts of securities fraud, but died before sentencing.
• Janet Rehnquist (R) appointed Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services by George W. Bush. In 2002, Governor Jeb Bush’s (R-FL) Chief of Staff Kathleen Shanahan asked Rehnquist to delay auditing a $571 million federal overpayment to the State of Florida. Rehnquist ordered her staff to delay the investigation for five months until after the Florida elections. When Congress began an investigation in to the matter, Rehnquist resigned in March 2003, saying she wanted to spend more time with her family.
• John Yoo (R) An attorney in the Office of Legal Counsel inside the Justice Department who, working closely with vice president Dick Cheney and The Bush Six, wrote memos stating the right of the president to –
1. suspend sections of the ABM Treaty without informing Congress
2. bypass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allowing warrentless wiretapping of US Citizens within the United States by the National Security Agency.
3. state that the First Amendment and Fourth Amendments and the Takings Clause do not apply to the president in time of war as defined in the USA PATRIOT Act
4. allow Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (torture) because provisions of the War Crimes Act, the Third Geneva Convention, and the Torture convention do not apply.
Many of his memos have since been repudiated and reversed. Later review by the Justice Department reported that Yoo and Jay Bybee used “poor judgement” in the memos, but no charges have yet been filed.
• Ted Stevens Senator (R-AK) convicted on seven counts of bribery and tax evasion October 27, 2008 just prior to the election. He continued his run for re-election, but lost. Once the Republican was defeated in his re-election, new US Attorney General Eric Holder (D) dismissed the charges “in the interest of justice” stating that the Justice Department had illegally withheld evidence from defense counsel.
• Charles Rangel (D-NY) failed to report $75,000 income from the rental of his villa in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and was forced to pay $11,000 in back taxes.(September 2008)
• Rick Renzi (R-AZ) Announced he would not seek another term. Seven months later, on February 22, 2008 he pleaded 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 officials 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 implicated:
1. Tom DeLay (R-TX) The House Majority Leader was reprimanded twice by the House Ethics Committee and his aides indicted (2004–2005); eventually DeLay himself was investigated in October 2005 in connection with the Abramoff scandal, but not indicted. DeLay resigned from the House 9 June 2006. Delay was found to have illegally channeled funds from Americans for a Republican Majority to Republican state legislator campaigns. He was convicted of two counts of money laundering and conspiracy in 2010.
2. James W. Ellis (R) executive director of Americans for a Republican Majority a PAC, was indicted for money laundering.
3. John D. Calyandro (R) of Americans for a Republican Majority
4. Bob Ney (R-OH) pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements as a result of his receiving trips from Abramoff in exchange for legislative favors. Ney received 30 months in prison.
5. Robert E. Coughlin (R) Deputy Chief of Staff, Criminal Division, Justice Department, pled guilty to accepting bribes.
• John Doolittle (R-CA) both he and his wife were under investigation (January 2008). Under this cloud, Doolittle decided not to run for re-election in November 2008. The Justice Department announced in June 2010 they had terminated the investigation and found no wrong doing.
• Randy Cunningham (R-CA)pleaded guilty on November 28, 2005 to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion in what came to be called the Cunningham scandal. Sentenced to over eight years.
• Kyle Foggo Executive director of the CIA was convicted of honest services fraud in the awarding of a government contract and sentenced to 37 months in the federal prison at Pine Knot, Kentucky. On September 29, 2008, Foggo pleaded guilty to one count of the indictment, admitting that while CIA executive director he acted to steer a CIA contract to the firm of his lifelong friend, Brent R. Wilkes.
• 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 anyway, but lost in 2008. Jefferson was convicted of 11 counts of bribery and sentenced to 13 years on November 13, 2009, and his chief of staff Brett Pfeffer was sentenced to 84 months in a related case.
• 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 (2003)
• 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 contributions from Korean businessman 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)