Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Congressional Sex Scandals

The Ultimate Aphrodisiac

Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton

From the earliest days of the United States it seems the founding fathers have been cheating on the founding mothers. At least, it can appear that way, and nothing quite captures public attention like a sex scandal involving elected officials. President Bill Clinton set the bar incredibly high in the 1990s, though Grover Cleveland was no slouch in his time in the Oval Office. After Cleveland fathered an illegitimate child he ran for president, prompting a campaign slogan of "Ma, ma, where's my pa? Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha." Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, conducted a long-running extra-marital affair that prompted the woman's husband to blackmail, while Thomas Jefferson may have fathered a child by his 17-year-old slave Sally Hemmings. And who can forget Senator Arthur Brown of Utah who held office in 1897 until his mistress shot and killed him?

More recently, legal scandals of the boudoirs of Washington have seemed to center on Congressmen who may have had one too many closets in their Washington offices. Within about a year of each other beginning in 2006, the public learned of the distressing text topics of Representative Mark Foley and the peculiar bathroom stall habits of Senator Larry Craig. While varying in the amount of legal and political damage inflicted, both episodes involved homosexuality, underage Congressional pages, sensational press coverage, denial and a breach of one of the oldest Washington rules: the cover-up is always worse than the crime.

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