Top 10 Political Scandals in the United States

It’s not uncommon in the United States of America that those who wield power also have the dubious distinction of making the news for all the wrong reasons. With news channels exposing scandals and late night shows lampooning cover up efforts to the amusement of the audience.

Political scandals in the most powerful nation of the world have made headlines across the globe. Amongst these, there are a few scandals that have ‘stood the test of time’ and still remain seared into the public conscience years after they first came to light.

Navigation Menu of the Top 10 Political Scandals in the United States

1. Downing Street Memo
2. NSA Surveillance Controversy
3. The Keating Five
4. Teapot Dome Scandal
5. Abu Gharib Prison Atrocities
6. Pentagon Papers
7. Clinton Lewinsky Scandal
8. Iran – Contra Affair
9. Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedy’s
10. Watergate Affair

More Political Scandals

1. Downing Street Memo (Year: 2002)

In a strange case, the ‘Downing Street Memo’ scandal was exposed by the UK press. The London Times released details of a memo which showed that President George W Bush had plans to give out false information about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. The supposed aim of this exercise was to project a just cause for initiating a war on Iraq. The memo which had this damning information found its way to British PM Tony Blair’s office through the British intelligence channels and made headline news in the UK. But the story was handled with extreme caution by the US press and a lot was hush-hushed.

2. NSA Surveillance Controversy (Year: 2001)

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which was implemented in 1978 regulates intelligence gathering to protect the interests of the US and allies from perceived threats from foreign nations or nationals.

Post September 11, 2001, then President George W Bush initiated a program which allowed the National Security Agency (NSA) to tap certain phones without approval from the FISC. An FISC warrant is mandatory for such exercises under the FISA Act. Under this program, calls, text messages, emails and other communication from or to foreign nations with persons suspected of links with terrorist organizations were kept under surveillance.

The program was made public in a December 2005 report by The New York Times. The expose prompted both public outcry and political intervention against what was criticized as blatant disregard for the Fourth Amendment. The FISA was subsequently modified significantly with the Protect America Act of 2007.

3. The Keating Five (Year: 1989)

Five US Senators were accused of corruption after the infamous collapse of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association in 1989. The collapse of the institution cost the federal government $3 billion and 23,000 bond holders were defrauded, some losing all their savings.

The country, already reeling under the wider Savings and Loans crisis, was shocked by the revelation that came to light during regulatory investigation of Charles Keating Jr., Chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. The Federal Home Loan Bank Board (the loans and savings regulatory body) former head Edwin Gray accused the five senators of asking him to back off the Lincoln investigation. These senators had taken $1.3 million as campaign funds from Keating.

4. Teapot Dome Scandal (Year: 1922-1924)

The Teapot Dome was a Naval oil field in Wyoming which had been reserved by President William Taft for emergency oil supplies for the Navy. There were many politicians opposed to the idea of reserving oil fields in this manner as they held it unnecessary.

In 1921, Albert Fall was appointed as Secretary of the Interior by President Harding. Fall managed to lease part of the reserved oil fields to Sinclair of Mammoth Oil Corp without getting any competitive bids. Similarly, another reserved oil field was leased to Doheny of Pan-American Petrol and Transport Co. In spite of Fall’s best efforts, news about his murky dealings was leaked out by the Wall Street Journal. Details of the ‘gifts’ he received, totaling up to $404,000 also came to light. The scandal rocked the administration and prompted detailed investigations into the affair.

5. Abu Gharib Prison Atrocities (Year: 2003)

The Abu Gharib prison, a correctional facility in Baghdad wasn’t exactly an unlikely location for a US political scandal. And so was proved when Sergeant Joseph Darby of the United States military police blew the whistle on the atrocities that were being carried out by members of the US armed forces, CIA and other US law enforcement officials on the prisoners held there. Reports of abuse, torture and unprovoked attacks on prisoners began to make the rounds. But the scandal really grabbed big media attention when pictures of abused, naked prisoners hit the news followed quickly by online circulation. This scandal badly damaged the image of the then US government and its allies as international peace keepers.

6. Pentagon Papers (Year: 1971)

The Pentagon papers scandal involved the unauthorized release of a 7000 page document to the press. The papers were top secret US Department of Defense documents pertaining to the US involvement in the Vietnam War spanning a period of 1945 to 1971, commissioned by the Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. Daniel Ellsberg, a worker with this department leaked the ultra secret information to the New York Times when he became disillusioned with the role played by the US in the war.

7. Clinton Lewinsky Scandal (Year: 1998)

The Bill Clinton – Monica Lewinsky scandal was not one which had any far reaching implications for the country, but certainly tainted one of the most popular US Presidents of all time. The scandal resulted in the impeachment of President Clinton.

The Lewinsky scandal came to light after a similar sexual harassment case was filed against the President by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones. In bid to strengthen the case, Jones’s lawyers began to question other women who had worked with Clinton. After the scandal became public, both Clinton and Lewinsky denied the relationship during questioning. However, a co-worker Linda Tripp, to whom Lewinsky had confided in, brought some startling facts to the notice of Kenneth Starr, an independent counsel investigating the allegations.

After the evidence was made public, the country was shocked by the blatant perjury that the President had committed by lying under oath. The Republicans had a field day with the expose and Bill Clinton suffered damage to his otherwise enviable reputation as an able administrator.

8. Iran – Contra Affair (Year: 1985-1986)

This scandal took place when Ronald Reagan was still in the White House. Many of the murkier details of the scandal are still hidden thanks to a thorough hush up job by loyal Reagan officials and it is still not clear to what extent the President’s complicity goes in the affair.

The scandal revolved around the arms-for-hostages deal which the US government allegedly arranged with some politically influential Iranian groups. The plan was to facilitate the safe return of US hostages who were being held in Iran by terrorists. The profits from these deals were going into funding the Nicaraguan contras, for whom President Reagan had expressed support earlier.

Although a direct link was never established connecting the President with the dealings, critics believe that the orders did come from high up in the line of command and that Reagan was in the know all the while. The President did publicly accept moral responsibility for all the dealings even though he was ‘unaware’ of them. An investigative committee was appointed by Reagan himself, which, understandably, declared him innocent.

9. Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedys (Year: Early 1960s)

Marilyn Monroe was perhaps the most start crossed lover in history. On one hand was her dazzling success in tinsel town and on the other, her volatile and highly secret relationships with the much-married President of the US and his brother. Monroe’s name was linked to both John F Kennedy and Robert F Kennedy.

Although many in the political circles knew of the affairs, they were carefully hushed up so that the public had no clear facts to chew on. Monroe however was becoming a public embarrassment and had even threatened to go public about the President’s infidelities. But her plans were short-lived as she was found dead in her home under mysterious circumstances. Although official reports say she committed suicide, there have always been rumors that the Kennedys had her ‘removed’ to protect their political image. The truth still remains elusive.

All of these scandals created a lot of furor and brought bad publicity to the politician(s) and the political party involved. But none had such a far reaching impact as the Watergate scandal which caused, for the first time, a reigning President to resign fearing impeachment.

10. Watergate Affair (Year: 1972-1974)

The Watergate scandal is probably the most infamous political scandal that US has ever witnessed. It left such a long lasting impression on the collective consciousness of the American public that ‘Watergate’ became synonymous with scandal. The Watergate scandal was basically a botched bid to re-elect the then president Richard Nixon to office in the approaching elections.

In a bid to boost the chances of a return to the office for Nixon, five loyalists broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters on May 27, 1972. Among these five were former CIA operatives and a former NY district attorney. The men tapped phones, photographed documents and indulged in shadow practices. A second break in attempt was spotted by a vigilant security guard who called in the Washington police. The five men were arrested and with their arrest, subsequent investigation began to unravel what was one of the worst scandals that the US had ever seen.

The President’s involvement in the affair was proved beyond doubt by tapes which had recorded his private conversations with top ranking officials of the government. Coming on the heels of a complete denial by the President of any knowledge of the affair, these tapes sealed his fate. Faced with imminent impeachment, Richard Nixon was left with no choice but to resign as President of the United States on August 9, 1974.

The scandal is also well known for the mystery source that fed the investigative Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, most of the critical information. The unidentified source was simply known as the ‘Deep Throat’.

The list of Top10 most shameful political US scandals may just be the tip of the iceberg. There must be hundreds of other murky dealings and doings that our ‘country serving’ politicians may be involved in without our knowing – should we still blindly take their words for the truth or start viewing everything with an eye of distrust?

  • Only some ding-bat lib would write horsecrap like this.

  • ArmyDicked

    You lists of top ten Political Scandles are w-a-y too tilted as being weighed towards recent history.

    1. Nobody cares about the Kennedys & Marlyn Monroe except Joe Dimaggio and Frank Sinatra (betrayed)

    2. As for Clinton-Lewinski, the less said about that the better. Clinton got impeached (house) but not removed AND his popularity is just as strong today as it was at the time of the impeachment—at least he didn’t have a bastard child like President Grover Cleveland [See Cleveland-Blaine election].

    My Choices of Scandles:

    1. Watergate= Numbero Uno!!! (1972-1974)

    2. The Arron Burr-GEN Wilkerson deal to surrender the State of Kentucky to the Spanish Crown…GEN Wilkerson died being a paid Spy against the United States for the King of Spain!!! (1805?)

    3. St. Clair’s Defeat. Pres. Washington ordered BG Clair to ‘spank’ the Indians and St. Clair wound up losing HALF the Regular Army of the United States!!! Congress HOWLED for Washington’s Impeachment AND had the votes to do it too!!! The Scandal of the loss FORCED Pres. Washington to recall GEN Wayne to lead the military offensive PLEDGING never to dawn his Army Uniform again AND he was forced to had advisers who reported all plans to Congress [The FIRST Presidential Cabinet was IMPOSED upon Pres. Washington in order for him to KEEP HIS JOB!!! (1794)

    4. Tea Pot Dome Scandal—Fall took the Fall for ‘oil company loans’. He was the FIRST Cabinet Official to go to prison (1923)

    5. GW Bush and his Invasion of Iraq (2002). There was no WEAPONS of Mass Destruction AND there was no Saddam ties to Al Queada. In fact the opposite occurred—Hezzbola, Al Queada and the Shiia all had standing contracts out on Saadam to kill him. As for the Weapons of Mass Destruction, Iraqi Refugee XXXXX told the Germans that lie to get citizenship (as he now confesses). Dr. Robert Gates (CIA) warned Bushie of the lie but Channey got ahold of the disgraced CIA Analyst’s report and Bush went in. America’s untold Scandal is when Attorney General Gonzalez convinced Pres. Bush to pardon himself and his cabinet for war crimes AS well as the Hague Invasion Act (2003) which declares America does not recognize ANY authority to try its soldiers/people—including praying to little baby Jesus to make it stop (sorry, Jimmy; you have no authority here—we got us a paper!!!).

    6. Mai Lai 4 genocide & Cover-up (1968) America butchered 900 plus unarmed men, women & children and then claimed nothing happened. LTC Barker (Taskforce Barker) wrote “There was no Murder of Civilians…20 civilians accidently wandered into a fire fight between elements of the Americal Division & the 48th NVA Inf Reg. COL Henderson investigated it and found LTC Barker’s report factual. Finally GEN Abrams instructed MAJ Colin Powell to ‘Leave no stone untouched’ and write the truth and he did “There was no massacre…our relations with the So. Vietnamese couldn’t be better!!! American troops murdered civilians, raped children, burned houses, poisoned wells, killed cattle, looted personal property, forced a safeguard, etc. etc. 66 Officers investigated, none jailed, Only CPT Medina & 1LT Calley charged, CPT Medina walked and 1LT Calley was pardoned after being restricted to base at Ft Benning.

    7. Other Massacres as scandals: Sands Creek Massacre (1864), Battle of the Cretor (1909-PI/Am war) Bascari Massacres (1943) SGT West & CPT Compton butchered German/Italian prisoners qouting GEN Patton’s speach as ‘I VAS ONLY FOLLOWING ORDERS’. SGT West got LIFE in prison, CPT Compton was ‘used until depleted’ (forced to lead attack after attack until the Germans or his own troops shot him). Highway of Death (1991) and Hidetha (2010)

    8. The Death of President Harding (he was poisoned by the 1st lady who IMMEDIATELY cremated the body). (1923)

    9. The Panic of 1907/The Panic of 2008 Speculators/Bankers cause the Collaspe of the US Market and almost sank the nation in debt

    10. Iran Contra (1984) A naval Admiral & a Marine COL installed a Junta over Americal and ran the country while Grandpa Reagan slept/denied everything. This had been the greatest threat to America since Watergate

  • John Parker

    LOL….. Democrats….. they always down play the their “heroes’” falls…. If anybody had any information about these affairs, which I am sure people did have, then they could easily black mail the president, with I am sure happened.

    Being able to blackmail the leader of the free world is a power like no other. The president would have no choice but to pay these people off, or “off” these people, which I am sure happened….lol….. this is a major deal. AND I am 100% sure that ALL presidents abuse their power on a daily basis….. unfortunately some of them get caught and it is the end for them, no matter how good they were.

    These are freaking politicians we are talking about….. human politicians…. They lie, cheat and steal every chance they get. That is just the way it is. Heck…. If you tailed or spied on anybody with money and power you would see the same thing….

    There is no decent human being with money and power by the traditional definition of the word…. As far as the “Watergate” scandal goes, I always thought there was WAY more to the story than just spying on the opposing side…. This is laughable. This happens during all campaigns. And then Nixon lied about it?…..LOL….. what president has not lied to us about something? Just stupid…..

    • ArmyDicked

      Richard M. Nixon was one of America’s GREATEST PRESIDENTS (reproachment with China, pushing 1st man on the moon, got us out of Vietnam)—all blown because he was ALSO a COMMON BARRACK’S THEIF!!! Eisenhower was right about DICK and should have tossed him off the ticket but didn’t.

      Here’s the story as I read it going down. Nixon thought he DESERVED a small ‘toke’ in office so he sent a jive-assed POLITICAL CONSULTANT to hit BeBe Robozzo (sic) up for a $60K ‘LOAN’ to buy a Swimming Pool and a Pool Table. THAT’S RIGHT, AMERICA—Dick Nixon sold America out for a Pool Table & a Swimming Pool!!! And notice how NO BODY takes bribes in America—they all take out ‘l-o-a-n-s’!!!

      The deal went down smoothly and then disaster struck. The Contract for the Political Consultant/BAG MAN ran out so the Republican Political Consultant jumped ship for the Democratic National Committee which was hiring. NIXON FREAKED when he heard that.

      It so prayed on his mind that he had the DNC broken into to see if the Consultant had ‘spilt the beans’. They actually had the Consultant in question comment on it. “In my career, I’ve run ‘drop money’ for Republicans and Whores for Democrats—I’d have hit teams from the Demo-Republicans after my ass if I ‘grew a conscious and started confessing my ‘crimes’.

      Me? I’m a Monarchist [All Hail Queen Kim Kardashian—the Royal Pain in the Ass!!!]. I despise the DEMO-REPUBLICANS. Who’s more moral? SEN Alan Cranston (D) or SEN McCain (R) of the Keating FIVE? Who’s more for the Rich & More for the ‘working guy’—Cranston or McCain?!!! They are ALL SCUM, Republicans are simple to understand—they are all crooks, end of story. Tell a Republican his shoe laces are untied and as he bends over, look at all the money sticking out of his hole!!!

      Democrates, on the other hand, are a different kind of crook. They’re complicated. Usually, The can’t keep their flies zipped up (Cleveland, Kennedy, Clinton) [as opposed to GOV Stanford/Neut Gingrich) or they try to kill people (RFK, the mob & Castro).

  • Carlos

    American people don’t know what real corruption and political scandal are like. Take a look at the Mensalão scandal, here in Brasil. Nothing like that ever happened in the world’s history. And, Abu Gharaib “Atrocities”, man… That’s nothing like torture in the Cuban Guantanamo and Chinese prisons.

  • Emily

    Interesting information provided. Too bad there aren’t more facts but rather the normal hearsay of what every already knows. I’ve been looking for information for an English paper I’m writing when I stumbled on this posting.

    While I agree with Amy, that some affairs of our presidents aren’t as scandalous as everyone makes them to be, and that they shouldn’t be before such things as Watergate because they don’t really affect as many people as Watergate. I must disagree with Marcel. While they are not as important, they are indeed political scandals. Such things as a presidents infidelity while in office, shows the world how truly immoral we Americans can be.

    Many places in the world still kill adultery committing couples to preserve a tradition or belief system they have had for thousands of years. So when they see our leaders who are to be at the forefront and representing us as a whole, what do you think they will think of us? Look at our most revered people of recent history…

    Marilyn Monroe – “sex symbol”?
    Michael Jackson – grabbing himself and bleaching his skin
    Bill Clinton – chasing skirts in the White House
    Obama – constantly on vacation

    … Get the point?

    While you may think its nothing because it is so common here in America, Americans aren’t the only ones who pay attention to such things. Our leaders need to represent us with dignity and honor. So these little things, add up to a public worlds opinion that Americans are dirty, lazy, sex-crazed, race-driven, immoral idiots.

  • Daniel Stone (ADMIN)

    Thanks for the English lesson David. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day as an Internet grammatically correct police office to let me know.

    Feel free to proof read any other pages and let me know what you find.

  • David

    There should be no apostrophe in “Kennedys”. This is a plural, not a possessive. It’s so hard to take seriously anything that fails the “Has it been proofread?” test.

  • Amy

    There is no doubt that Marilyn Monroe had an affair with JFK or Clinton with Monica Lewinsky–but it is quite interesting that these affairs are the eye-catchers and they only affect a few people. Scandals like Watergate which affect the entire nation are shelved behind these affairs. Let’s be honest, people cheat on their spouses every day, but a whole political and governmental scandal like Watergate doesn’t happen every day.

    • Marcel

      You are so right Amy, and thank you for mentioning this, because I was just saying this to myself and bashing the person who posted these top ten political scandals on here to actually have the nerve to include both the Clinton-Lewinsky and Monroe-Kennedy love affairs into this list of top ten political scandals in the U.S., which is absolutely preposterous!

      First of all, the person calls them “political scandals”, and a president’s love affair is NOT a political act, so clearly, both the Clinton and Kennedy love affairs are NOT political scandals, because it’s NOT a political thing!

      Second of all, as Amy pointed out, the REAL bottom line here what really matters is that any powerful politician’s love affair does NOT negatively affect the people of a country in ANY way, whatsoever, other than just they few people around him, which may not even necessarily be a negative thing to begin with, but a powerful politician’s scandalous act of corruption that is political on a national level DOES affect the well-being of the entire people of a nation in EVERY negative way.

      For these true political scandals sometimes place civilian lives at risk or even result in death! Obviously, the political scandals such as Watergate, Downing Street Memo, NSA Surveillance, and the Pentagon papers are FAR more serious acts of political corruption that directly put the entire well-being and lives of the American people at risk.

      The other two so-called scandals, the Clinton-Lewinsky and Kennedy-Monroe affairs, which are NOT even real scandals, are NOT serious acts, for they are NOT even political, because those Presidents’ love affairs do NOT negatively affect the well-being and lives of the entire American people in ANY way at ALL!

      So, Clinton and Kennedy had an affair! Boo hoo! BIG DEAL!!! Mind your own business and get a life! Get over it! On the other hand, Watergate, the unauthorized NSA Surveillence, the Irag War, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks – THOSE are the serious things that should be concerned with, you morons, NOT the harmless infidelities and love affairs of a President, which are NOT even a problem in the first place!

      The only types of despicable brainless idiots who have the sick perverted nerve to actually be more affected by presidential infidelities than the nationally destructive political scandals are those disgusting low-life uneducated ignorants in society who are brainwashed by sick perverted unrealistic religious ideologies and false morals!

      Go stick your sickly pseudo-moral ignorance up you know where and start showing concern to the REAL morally destructive things that happen by the government, which exclude ALL infidelities and love affairs!

      Only heinous demented hate-bred religiously perverted socially conservative psychopaths would be so sick to put harmless presidential infidelities and love affairs in front of socially destructive and murderous national political scandals, because these sick religious socially conservative mindless sociopaths in society are brainwashed by these unrealistic false ideologies who wrongfully condemn people for their harmless acts and who have no regards for the lives of innocent civilians!