Government Shame Record under Bush and Obama
As Al Frankena said, “Those who don’t want to rule, prove
that they can’t” (referring to the bus administration. And in The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives
Ruined Government, Enriched
Themselves, and Beggared the Nation, Thomas Frank points at they those who don’t
believe in government are far more likely to violate the ethical rules
pertaining to governance.
From Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_scandals_of_the_United_States#Executive_Branch_2
and organization of political scandals
The article is organized by
presidential terms and then divided into scandals of the Executive, Legislative
and Judicial Branches. Members of both parties are listed under the term of the
president in office at the time the scandal took place.
is no hard and fast rule defining scandals. Scandal is defined as "loss of
or damage to reputation caused by actual or apparent violation of
morality or propriety." In politics scandal should be kept separate from
'controversy,' (which implies two differing points of view) and 'unpopularity.'
Many decisions are controversial, many decisions are unpopular--that alone does
not make them scandals.
A good guideline is whether or not
an action is, or appears to be, illegal. Since everyone, particularly a
politician, is expected to be law abiding, breaking the law is, by definition,
a scandal. 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. The
finding of a court with jurisdiction is the sole method used to determine a
violation of law.
There is no bright line
to distinguish "major" scandals from "minor" scandals, but
rather scandals tend to be defined by the public themselves and the media's
desire to feed that particular frenzy. Thus, small but salacious scandals, such
as Larry Craig's (R-ID) arrest for lewd behavior can eclipse more serious
scandals such as suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus
in time of war.
What is also not so clear, is how
far down the ladder of obscurity a scandal should go. During the Truman (D)
administration, 196 local IRS staffers were found to be corrupt, but they were
so far removed from Washington, Truman or any of his appointees, that it could
hardly be called a 'Truman scandal.'
Also not included in this article
are pervasive systemic scandals, such as the role of money in
"normal" politics which purchases access and influence. Neither are
'revolving door' stories, which is the practice of hiring government officials
to promote or lobby for companies they were recently paid to regulate. Though
some rules now apply, to a great extent this is legal in the United States.
are those who make their living primarily in politics, their staffs and
appointees. By definition, political scandals should involve politicians and
not private citizens. Private citizens should be included only when they are
closely linked to elected or appointed politicians such as party officials.
Kenneth Lay of Enron,
is a good example of such a citizen. This list also does not include crimes
which occur outside the politician’s tenure unless they specifically stem from
acts while they were in office.
Scope To keep the
article a manageable size, Senators and Congressmen who are rebuked,
admonished, condemned, suspended, found in contempt, found to have acted
improperly, used poor judgement or were reprimanded by Congress are not
included unless the scandal is exceptional or leads to expulsion.
See Also at the bottom of the
article has links to related articles which deal with politicians who are
actually convicted of crimes, as well as differentiating between federal, state
and local scandals and two separate articles are devoted to sex crimes and
 Federal government
 2009– Obama
 Executive Branch
 Legislative Branch
- John Ensign (R-NV) the religious conservative
resigned his Senate seat on May 3, 2011 before the Senate Ethics Committee
could examine possible fiscal violations in connection with his
extramarital affair with Cynthia Hampton. (2011)
(see federal sex scandals)
- Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) Rangel was found
guilty on 11 ethics violations including improper fund raising and failure
of disclosure, by the House
On December 2, 2010, the full House of Representatives voted 333-79 to
- Tom DeLay (R-TX) On November 24, 2010 a Texas jury
convicted DeLay of money laundering connected to the Jack
Abramoff scandal. (2010)
On January 10, 2011, he was sentenced to three years in prison in Texas.
- Joe Wilson (R-SC) during a major
televised speech about health care reform to a joint session of Congress,
President Obama stated that no illegal immigrants
would be accepted under his plan. Rep. Wilson interrupted the speech and
shouted, "You lie!" The incident resulted in a formal rebuke by
the House of Representatives.
He later admitted that the outburst was "inappropriate". (2009)
 Judicial Branch
- 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
convicted by the US Senate and removed from office. He had been appointed
- 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)
George W. Bush Administration
 Executive Branch
- Timothy Goeglein (R) Special Assistant to
President Bush resigned when it was discovered that more than 20 of his
columns had been plagarized from an Indiana newspaper. (2008)
- Lewis Libby (R) Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney (R),
'Scooter' 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)
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
When Congressional hearings were called, a number of senior Justice Department
officials cited executive privilege and refused to testify under oath and
instead resigned, including:
A. Battle (R) Director of Executive Office of US Attorneys in the Justice Department.
Schlozman (R) Director of Executive Office of US Attorneys who replaced
Elston (R) Chief of Staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty
McNulty (R) Deputy Attorney General to William Mercer
W. Mercer (R) Associate Attorney General to Alberto Gonzales
Sampson (R) Chief of Staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
Gonzales (R) Attorney General of the United States
Goodling (R) Liaison between President Bush and the Justice Department
Bolten (R) Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bush was found in Contempt of
10. Sara M. Taylor (R) Aid to Presidential Advisor Karl
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,
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
- Lurita Alexis Doan (R) Resigned as head of
the General Services Administration.
She was under scrutiny for conflict of interest and violations of the
Among other things she asked GSA employees how they could "help
- John Korsmo (R-SD) chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board
pled guilty to lying to congress and sentenced to 18 months of
unsupervised probation and fined $5,000. (2005)
- 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. Abramoff was
sentenced to 4 years in prison.
See Legislative scandals.
Safavian GSA (General Services Administration) Chief of Staff,
found guilty of blocking justice and lying,
and sentenced to 18 months
Stillwell (R) Staff in the Department of the Interior
under President George W. Bush (R). Pleaded guilty and received two
years suspended sentence. 
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
Steven Griles (R) former Deputy to the Secretary of the Interior
pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and was sentenced to 10 months.
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.
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
(R) staff in the Department of Labor, bribed by
Abramoff, guilty of conspiracy to defraud.
Robert E. Coughlin (R) Deputy Chief of Staff,
Criminal Division of the Justice Department pleaded guilty to conflict of
interest after accepting bribes from Jack
- 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
- 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 George W. Bush (R) 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. As revealed by The (British) Downing Street
memo "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" The press called
this the 'smoking gun."(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.
- Coalition Provisional Authority
Cash Payment Scandal: On June 20, 2005, the staff of the Committee on
Government Reform prepared a report for Congressman Henry
It was revealed that $12 billion in cash had been delivered to Iraq by C-130
planes, on shrinkwrapped pallets of US $100 bills.
States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, concluded that
"Many of the funds appear to have been lost to corruption and
waste.... Some of the funds could have enriched both criminals and
insurgents...." Henry Waxman, commented, "Who in their right
mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone?" A single flight to
Iraq on December 12, 2003 which contained $1.5 billion in cash is said to
be the largest single Federal Reserve payout in US history according to
- 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 guilty to two
counts of tax fraud and five counts of lying to the federal government and
was sentenced to four years in prison.
- Torture: Top US officials including George
W. Bush (R)
interrogation 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".
- Plame affair (2004), in which CIA agent Valerie
Plame's name was supposedly leaked by Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State, to the
press in retaliation for her husband's criticism of the reports used by George
W. Bush to legitimize the Iraq war.
Armitage admitted he was the leak
but no wrong doing was found.
- 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.
- Kenneth Lay (R), a member of the Republican
National Committee, financial donor and ally of President George
W. Bush (R) and once considered a possible Secretary of the Treasury.
Lay was found guilty of 10 counts of securities fraud concerning his company Enron, but died
- 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 –
suspend sections of the ABM Treaty without informing Congress
bypass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act allowing warrentless wiretapping of US Citizens within the United
States by the National Security Agency.
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
allow Enhanced Interrogation Techniques
(torture) because provisions of the War Crimes Act, the Third Geneva Convention, and the Torture convention do not
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
 Legislative Branch
- 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:
(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.
Scanlon (R) former staff to Tom DeLay: working for Abramoff, pled guilty to
Tony Rudy (R)
former staff to Tom DeLay, pleaded guilty to conspiracy.
W. Ellis (R) executive director of Tom DeLay's political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority
(ARMPAC), was indicted by Texas for money laundering.
Colyandro (R) executive director of Tom DeLay's political action committee,
Texans for a Republican Majority
(TRMPAC), was indicted by Texas for money laundering
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.
(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.
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.
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)
10. 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.
11. Kevin A. Ring (R) former staff to John Doolittle
(R-CA) was convicted of five charges of corruption.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Tan Nguyen (R-CA) congressional candidate for the
47th District was convicted of voter intimidation. He lost the election
and was sentenced to one year in prison and six months in a halfway house.
- 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
- 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)