List of federal political sex scandals in the United States

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This is a list of sex scandals involving US-American federal politicians.

This list is ordered by date: most recent to least recent.

Sex, scandal and politics[edit]

Scandal is defined as "loss of or damage to reputation caused by actual or apparent violation of morality or propriety." Scandal is not the same as controversy, which implies two differing points of view, or unpopularity.

An action that is, or appears to be, illegal very often results in scandal. Conviction for breaking a law is, by definition, a scandal. The finding of a court with jurisdiction is the sole method used to determine a violation of law. Misunderstandings, breaches of ethics, unproven crimes or cover-ups may or may not result in scandals depending on who is bringing the charges, the amount of publicity garnered, and the seriousness of the crime, if any.

Sex between two consenting adults may or may not be illegal, depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances. Sex outside of a monogamous marriage, or with a person of the same sex, may or may not be illegal, but often fits the definition of scandal.



  • Ryan Loskarn (R) Chief of Staff to US Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) was found dead while awaiting trial on charges of possessing and distributing child pornography.[1]
  • Robert Decheine (D) Chief of Staff to US Representative Steve Rothman (D-NJ), was sentenced to 18 months in prison for soliciting sex from a minor. (2011) [2][3]
  • Thad Viers (R) the three term South Carolina state representative withdrew as a candidate for the US Congress in January 2012 after he had been arrested on charges of harassing a 28 year old woman described as an ex-girlfriend. He was released on a $5000 bond and subsequently withdrew from the race citing "personal reasons".[4][5]
  • Herman Cain (2012 Republican presidential candidate) was accused of sexual harassment by several women [6][7] including Sharon Bialek, Karen Kraushaar, and having a 13 year affair with Ginger White.[8][9] Donna Donella also reported possible inappropriate behavior.[10] These accusations eventually caused him to suspend his run for the presidential nomination.[11]
  • David Wu (D-OR) resigned from the House of Representatives after being accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward a fundraiser's daughter. July 26, 2011.[12][13]
  • Anthony Weiner (D-NY) The newly married Congressman admitted to sending sexually suggestive photos of himself to several women through his Twitter account.[14] He resigned on June 16.[15] (2011)
  • Chris Lee, Representative (R-NY) Resigned hours after a news report that the married Congressman had sent a shirtless picture of himself flexing his muscles to a woman via Craigslist, along with flirtatious emails.[16] He did not use a pseudonym or a false email address, but relied on his congressional email for all communication. (2011)
  • Mark Souder, (R-IN) a staunch advocate of abstinence and family values,[17][18] resigned to avoid an ethics investigation into his admitted extramarital affair with a female staffer. Famously, he and she had made a public video in which they both extolled the virtues of sexual abstinence. (2010)[19][20][21]
  • Eric Massa (D-NY): Resigned to avoid an ethics investigation into his admitted groping and tickling of multiple male staffers. He later stated on Fox News that, "not only did I grope [a staffer], I tickled him until he couldn't breathe," (2010)[22][23]
  • Republican National Committee fired an administrator for her role in allowing $2,000 to be spent for a fund raiser at Club Voyeur which included bondage and topless dancers, (2011) [24]
  • Tom Ganley (R-OH) and candidate for the US House of Representatives in 2010 was indicted on seven counts of sexual imposition with a woman he met at a Tea Party Rally.[25] Charges were dropped when the woman refused to continue action.The married father of three has one other sex charge pending.[26][27]
  • David Petraeus (R) Resigned as the Director of the CIA in November 2012 after an FBI investigation uncovered that he had an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.[28][29]
  • Mark Sanford (R) While Governor of South Carolina told his wife that he was hiking the Appalachian Mountain Trail while he actually traveled to Argentina to visit his mistress. See Mark Sanford disappearance and extramarital affair.[30]


  • Chip Pickering, (R-MS) On July 16, 2009 it was announced that his wife had filed an alienation of affection lawsuit against a woman with whom Chip allegedly had an affair.[31] The lawsuit claimed the adulterous relationship ruined the Pickerings' marriage and his political career. (2009) [32]
  • Samuel B. Kent, Federal District Judge in Texas Appointed by George H.W. Bush in 1990. Accused of sexually harassing two female employees. He was impeached for abusing his authority and imprisoned for 33 months for obstruction of justice.[33] (2009)
  • John Ensign Senator (R-NV) Resigned his position as Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee on June 16, 2009, after admitting he had an affair with the wife of a close friend, both of whom were working on his campaign.[34] Under investigation, he then resigned his seat in Congress 20 months early. (2011) [35] In 1998, Senator Ensign had called for President Bill Clinton (D) to resign after admitting to sexual acts with Monica Lewinsky. (2009) [36]
  • John Edwards, Senator (D-NC) His 2008 presidential campaign was seriously undercut when he admitted to an extramarital affair with actress and film producer Rielle Hunter, which produced a child.[37] (see federal political scandals)
  • Vito Fossella, Representative (R-NY) Arrested for drunken driving. Under questioning, the married Congressman and father of three admitted to an affair with Laura Fay that produced a daughter. (2008)[38]
  • Tim Mahoney, Representative (D-FL) was elected to the seat of Mark Foley, who had resigned following sexual harassment charges from his congressional interns. Mahoney ran on a campaign promise to make "a world that is safer, more moral." In October 2008, he admitted he placed his mistress on his staff and then fired her, saying, "You work at my pleasure." He then admitted to multiple other affairs.[39]
  • Randall L. Tobias, Deputy Secretary of State and former "AIDS Czar" appointed by George W. Bush: Stated that U.S. funds should be denied to countries that permitted prostitution.[40] He resigned on April 27, 2007, after confirming that he had been a customer of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the DC Madam.[41]
  • David Vitter, Senator (R-LA): Took over former Congressman Robert Livingston's House seat in 1999, who resigned following revelations of an extramarital affair. At the time, Vitter stated: "I think Livingston's stepping down makes a very powerful argument that (Bill) Clinton should resign as well ..."[42] Vitters' name was then discovered in the address book of the DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey. (2007)[43]
  • Larry Craig, Senator (R-ID) Pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct following his arrest in a Minneapolis airport men's room in June 2007, on a charge of lewd conduct. Senator Craig had previously stated that "people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy - a naughty boy." (2007)[44]
  • Mark Foley, Representative (R-FL) Resigned when accused of sending sexually explicit emails to underage male congressional pages. He was replaced by Tim Mahoney. (2006)[45]
  • Brian J. Doyle, Deputy Press Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security was indicted for seducing what he thought was a 14-year-old girl on the Internet; she was actually a sheriff's deputy. On November 17, 2006, he was sentenced to 5 years in prison, 10 years of probation, and was registered as a sex offender.[46]
  • Jack Ryan, Senate candidate (R-IL) During sealed divorce proceedings in 2004, his wife Jeri Ryan accused him of forcing her to go to public sex clubs and described one as "a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling."[47] Ms. Ryan is better known as Seven of Nine from the TV show Star Trek: Voyager.[48]
  • Don Sherwood, Representative (R-PA) Failed to win re-election following revelations of a five-year extramarital affair with Cynthia Ore, who accused him of physically abusing her. (2004)[49]
  • David Dreier, Representative (R-CA): Voted against a number of gay rights proposals, but was outed concerning his relationship with his chief of staff. (2004)[50] He is featured in the 2009 documentary film Outrage.
  • Steven C. LaTourette, Representative (R-OH): Elected in 1994 and had voted to impeach Bill Clinton for the Lewinsky scandal. He himself had a long-term affair with his chief of staff, Jennifer Laptook, while he was married. He married Laptook after his divorce. (2003)[51]
  • Strom Thurmond, Senator (R-SC): The noted segregationist fathered a child, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, with a 15-year-old African American who was employed by the Thurmond family. (1925; made public in 2003)[52]
  • Jeff Gannon a.k.a. James Dale Guckert, a.k.a. "Bulldog": Admitted to White House press conferences as a journalist without proper vetting, and was allowed to ask such sympathetic questions that The Daily Show referred to him as "Chip Rightwingenstein of the Bush Agenda Gazette." Records show he was admitted to the White House numerous times even when there were no press conferences. He later admitted to being a $200-an-hour gay prostitute who had advertised himself on a series of websites with names such as"[53] (2005)[54]
  • Ed Schrock (R-VA) announced he would abort his 2004 attempt for a third term in Congress after allegedly being caught on tape soliciting sex from a male prostitute after having aggressively opposed various gay-rights issues in Congress, such as same-sex marriage and gays in the military.[55]
  • Gary Condit, Representative (D-CA) His affair with 23-year-old intern Chandra Levy was exposed after Levy disappeared. Her body was found a year later and in 2008, an illegal immigrant with no relation to Condit was charged with her murder. (2001)[56] Condit had often demanded that Bill Clinton "come clean" about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.[57]


  • Wade Sanders (D), Deputy Assistant United States Secretary of the Navy, for Reserve Affairs, was sentenced to 37 months in prison on one charge of possession of child pornography. (2009)[58][59]
  • Bill Clinton, President (D): Revelations that White House intern Monica Lewinsky had oral sex with Clinton in the Oval Office leading him to famously declare on TV on January 26, 1998 that "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." The scandal led to impeachment by the House for perjury, for lying about the affair under oath. He was acquitted in the Senate with 55 senators voting Not Guilty to 45 senators voting Guilty (falling 22 votes short of the two-thirds necessary to convict). (1998)[60][61]
  • Henry Hyde, Representative (R-IL). In 1998, the Internet magazine stated that from 1965 to 1969, Hyde conducted an extramarital sexual affair with a married woman who had three children from her marriage. Hyde, who was 41 years old and married when the affair occurred, admitted to the affair in 1998, describing the relationship as a "youthful indiscretion".The revelation of this affair took place as Hyde was spearheading the impeachment hearings of President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.[62]
  • Newt Gingrich, Representative (R-GA) and leader of the Republican Revolution of 1994:[63] Resigned from the House after admitting in 1998 to having had an affair with his intern while he was married to his second wife, and at the same time he was leading the impeachment of Bill Clinton for perjury regarding an affair with his intern Monica Lewinsky. (1998)[64][65]
  • Robert Livingston, Representative (R-LA): called for the resignation of Bill Clinton and when his own extramarital affairs were leaked, his wife urged him to resign and urge Clinton to do likewise.(1998)[66][67]
  • Bob Barr Representative (R-GA) had an affair while married. Barr had been the first lawmaker in either chamber to call for Clinton's resignation due to the Lewinsky affair. Barr lost a primary challenge less than three years after the impeachment proceedings.[68]
  • Dan Burton (R-IN) A combative critic of the Clinton/Lewinsky affair, Burton admitted that he had fathered a child out of wedlock.(1998) [69]
  • Helen Chenoweth-Hage (R-ID) aggressively called for the resignation of Bill Clinton, and admitted to her own six-year affair with a married rancher during the 1980s.[70]
  • Ken Calvert, Representative (R-CA): champion of the Christian Coalition once said "We can't forgive what occurred between the President and Lewinsky." Arrested for soliciting a prostitute for oral sex in his car.(1993)[71] [14]
  • Robert Packwood, Senator (R-OR): Resigned his office after 29 women came forward with claims of sexual harassment, abuse, and assaults. His denials of any wrongdoing were eventually contradicted by his own diaries boasting of his sexual conquests. (1995)[72]
  • Mel Reynolds, Representative (D-IL): Indicted for sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse for a relationship with a 16-year-old campaign volunteer in 1994. He was convicted of 12 counts of sexual assault, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography in 1995[73]
  • Charles S. Robb Senator (D-VA) while married to Lynda Bird Johnson, Robb acknowledged drinking champagne and having a nude massage with Miss Virginia Tai Collins denying an affair, though he admitted an "indiscreet friendship." Collins claimed it was an 18 month affair. Soon after, Collins appeared nude in Playboy.(1991) [74]
  • Donald "Buz" Lukens, Representative (R-OH): Resigned before facing an investigation that he fondled a female Washington elevator operator.[75] (1990)


  • Gus Savage (D-IL): Was accused of trying to force himself on a female Peace Corps worker while in Zaire.[76] No action was taken by the House Ethics Committee after he apologized to her. (1989) [77]
  • Barney Frank (D-MA): Reprimanded by the House for fixing 33 parking tickets for Steve Gobie, a male escort who lived with Frank and claimed to have conducted an escort service from Frank's apartment without his knowledge. (1989)[78]
  • Brock Adams (D-WA): Eight women accused Adams of committing various acts of sexual misconduct, ranging from sexual harassment to rape. (1988)[79]
  • Jim Bates (D-CA): Made sexual advances toward female staffers. (1988)[80]
  • Gary Hart, Senator (D-CO): While seeking the Democratic nomination for president, Hart was photographed with model Donna Rice on a boat named 'Monkey Business' during a trip to the Bahamas. His popularity plummeted and he soon dropped out. (1987)[81]
  • Gerry Studds (D-MA): Censured on July 20, 1983, in Congressional Page sex scandal for having sex with underage congressional pages. (1983)[82]
  • Dan Crane (R-IL) censured July 20, 1983 in the Congressional Page sex scandal for having sex with underage congressional pages. (1983)[82]
  • Jon Hinson (R-MS) US Congressman charged with oral sodomy of a male Library of Congress employee. (1981) [83]
  • Robert Bauman (R-MD): U.S. Congressman charged with attempting to solicit sex from a 16-year-old male prostitute. (1980)[84]
  • Thomas Evans (R-DE): U.S. Congressman went golfing in Florida with nude model and lobbyist Paula Parkinson, who suggested her lobbying techniques were "tactile."[85]


  • Nelson A. Rockefeller (R-NY), Vice President under Gerald R. Ford, died of a heart attack while having sex with a 25-year-old woman research assistant. (1979).[86]
  • Robert L. Leggett (D-CA): Acknowledged that he fathered two illegitimate children by a Congressional secretary, whom he supported financially. He then had an affair with another woman, who was an aide to Speaker Carl Albert.[87]
  • Fred Richmond (D-NY): Charges that he solicited sex from a 16-year-old boy were dropped after he submitted to counseling. (1978)[88]
  • Wayne Hays (D-OH): The Elizabeth Ray sex scandal ended his career in 1976. The Washington Post reported that Ray had been on the payroll of a committee run by Hays for two years as a clerk-secretary. During that time, she admitted, her actual job duties were providing Congressman Hays sexual favors: "I can't type, I can't file, I can't even answer the phone." (1976)[89][90][91]
  • John Young (D-TX): A former female staffer said she received a pay raise after giving in to Young's sexual advances. (1976)[92]
  • Allan Howe (D-UT): Arrested for soliciting two police officers posing as prostitutes. (1976)[93]
  • Wilbur Mills (D-AR): Found intoxicated with stripper Fanne Foxe. He was re-elected anyway, but resigned after giving an intoxicated press conference from Foxe's burlesque house dressing room. (1974)[94]
  • John Schmitz (R-CA), leader of the ultra conservative John Birch Society:[95] admitted to having a second family, but refused to accept or support the two children he produced who became wards of the state.[96]


  • David I. Walsh, Senator (D-MA): Accused of visiting a male brothel frequented by Nazi spies in Brooklyn in 1942.[103]
  • Warren Harding, President (R): While married to his wife Florence, he supposedly had affairs with Carrie Phillips and Nan Britton. (1921–1923). After Harding's death, Britton claimed in a best-selling 1927 book, "The President's Daughter," that her daughter had been fathered by Harding while he was a U.S. senator, although this was never proven by paternity testing.[104]
  • Newport sex scandal: Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt initiated an investigation into allegations of "immoral conduct" (homosexuality) at the Naval base in Newport, Rhode Island. (1919)[105]


  • Grover Cleveland, President (D): During the 1884 election, Cleveland, a bachelor, paid child support to Maria Crofts Halpin, even though he may not have been the father of her son. Halpin was known to have had sexual relationships with a number of men, including Cleveland's close friend and future father-in-law, Oscar Folsom, for whom the child was named. The controversy prompted Cleveland's opponents to adopt the chant, "Ma, ma, where's my pa?" After Cleveland won the election, the chant was answered by, "Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha!" (1884)[106]
  • President James Buchanan (D) and future Vice President William Rufus King (D-NC): They were the subject of scandalous gossip alleging a homosexual affair in Washington, D.C. for many years. Andrew Jackson referred to them as Miss Nancy and Aunt Fancy. (1850s)
  • James Henry Hammond, U.S. Representative and later Senator from South Carolina, engaged in a homosexual relationship with a college friend and later pursued what he called "a little dalliance" with his teenage nieces. The latter affair forced Hammond to withdraw his Senate bid in 1846.[107]
  • Petticoat Affair, or Eaton Affair: The husband of Margaret "Peggy" O'Neale, later Margaret O'Neill Eaton, was alleged to have been driven to suicide because of her affair with Andrew Jackson's Secretary of War, John Henry Eaton. (1831)
  • Future president Andrew Jackson (D) married Rachel Donelson Jackson in 1791. Both parties believed her divorce from her abusive, alcoholic first husband, Lewis Robards, was final. However, Robards had never completed his paperwork, rendering Jackson and Rachel's 1791 marriage null and void; and the couple had to marry a second time in 1795. In the 1828 election, some of Jackson's political opponents attempted to portray Rachel Jackson as a bigamist and a prostitute; and upon learning of these charges shortly after the election, despite Jackson's best efforts to keep them from her, Rachel suffered a nervous collapse and died before the inauguration. Jackson was bereft at the loss of his wife, and this fact has been used to explain his response to the Peggy Eaton "Petticoat Affair." (1828) [108]
  • Senator Richard Mentor Johnson: He did not attempt to hide his relationship with a slave named Julia Chinn, which caused his own party to distance themselves from him and contributed to his failed Senate re-election bid in 1828.[109]
  • President Thomas Jefferson: Was accused of fathering the children of his slave Sally Hemings by the published articles of James Callender.[110] (1802)
  • Alexander Hamilton-Maria Reynolds Affair: Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton had an affair with Maria Reynolds while both were married to other people. Reynolds' husband blackmailed Hamilton, forcing him to confess, which damaged his already controversial career. (1796)

See also[edit]

Federal politicians:

State and local politics:


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  • Grossman, Mark. Political Corruption in America: An Encyclopedia of Scandals, Power, and Greed. (2003).
  • Cerniglia, Keith A. "An Indelicate Amor: Alexander Hamilton and the First American Political Sex Scandal," Master's Thesis, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 2002.