It’s said that history repeats itself, and it’s never more true than in the realm of political scandals. But not just ordinary scandals – incendiary sex scandals that catch the indignation of a nation. We’re not even talking old history like Thomas Jefferson allegedly fathering children from Sally Hemings or John F. Kennedy’s notorious exploits. These are relatively recent, and there is a pattern. No, not Republicans versus Democrats (they’re equally culpable); they are all men. So what does it all mean? Are men incapable of being faithful? Does power corrupt? Isn’t narcissism necessary for all politicians and if so, why are we surprised at the inevitable result? Click ahead for 12 of the biggest sex scandals to rock the United States.
Not only did the former U.S. senator and 2004 vice presidential nominee cheat on his wife, he made the rookie mistake of fathering a child with his mistress, Riley Hunter. His wife, Elizabeth Edwards, died of cancer in 2010, but not before kicking John to the curb. For her part, Riley wrote a tell-all book in 2012 and revealed that Edwards had several mistresses before Riley. Riley told “The View,” “I’m a mom, I’m not a mistress.”
Newt is the political equivalent to Elizabeth Taylor. Now on his third marriage, this former Speaker of the House and presidential contender admitted to “past indiscretions,” but it’s the bombshell from his second wife, Marianne Gingrich, who said in an interview that Newt wanted to keep her as his wife while keeping (his now wife, then mistress) Callista Bisek as his mistress that really caused an uproar. Maybe Newt thought it was a case of bipartisanship.
Movie star, titan of weight lifting, and fan of the Hummer, it seems as if everything Arnold does is over-sized, including his mistakes. The former Governor of California, the very-married-Arnold, got caught with his hand in the cookie jar after he admitted to fathering a child with his maid. Arnold’s wife, Maria Shriver, said “Hasta la vista, hubby.”
The granddaddy of all political scandals. Kenneth Star. Cigars. The blue dress. “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” A sex act for a time was renamed “getting a Lewinsky.” So many cultural references, and yet Clinton managed to survive. The woman of his affections, however, wasn’t so lucky. Monica Lewinsky’s handbag business went under. On the bright side, she is said to be shopping a tell-all book of the affair – over a decade later – for a rumored $12 million.
In 2009, the South Carolina governor threw in the towel after he admitted to an extramarital affair with Maria Belen Chapur. His excuse of “hiking on the Appalachian Trial” could become its own euphemism (he was, in actuality, traveling to Argentina to see his mistress). Since then, Mark and his wife Jenny have divorced. He and his former mistress are now engaged. Politics makes for strange bedfellows, indeed.
In 2006, Congressman Mark Foley had to resign for sending explicit Internet messages to underage male teenagers working on Capitol Hill. Some nuggets of his include “did you spank it this weekend yourself” and “so you got a stiff one now.” Ironically, his voting record on LGBT-rights issues was cited in Newsweek as being “anti-gay.”
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In 2004, the New Jersey governor resigned after he admitted he was gay and had an extramarital affair with another man. He has since attended the General Theological Seminary to obtain his Master of Divinity in order to become an Episcopal priest. He and his wife have since separated.
With a name straight out of a Tom Clancy novel, Jack Ryan had to drop out of his U.S. Senate bid due to an alleged sex scandal involving his ex-wife, "Star Trek: Voyager's" Seven of Nine, Jeri Ryan. She said Jack had asked her to perform sex acts with him in public in sex clubs in New York, New Orleans and Paris, with one in particular that was a "bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling.” While not illegal, it made him a pariah to his party.
In 2008, the former New York governor had to resign in disgrace after he was caught in a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced call girl, Ashley Dupre. Spitzer is now the host of “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer” on Current TV. Dupre made attempts at a music career, and most recently was on “Famous Food” for VH1.
In 2010, the Congressman from New York resigned to avoid an ethics investigation into his admitted groping and tickling of male staffers. He stated on Fox News, “Not only did I grope [a staffer], I tickled him until he couldn’t breathe.” Confusing matters, he said only hours later on “Larry King Live” that it was not true that he groped anyone and only made the mistake of “getting too familiar with my staff.”
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In 2007, Senator Larry Craig from Idaho was arrested for lewd conduct in the men’s restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. A whole debate emerged as to the meaning of foot-taps in bathroom stalls. Were they merely nervous tics or a secret code to entice a lover? The bathroom in the airport has since become a mini-tourist attraction. Larry Craig finished his term, but did not run for re-election.