For commentary, you can read You’re ALL out of order.
These are the details, the who’s who plus the what and when of America’s federal convicted political criminals. Note I say convicted because I’m sure there are lots more that weren’t caught … or haven’t been caught yet. This not only isn’t everyone at the Federal level, it doesn’t deal at all with the state and locally elected criminals, from governors, to mayors, judges and the thousands of local pols. Truly too many to name. That’s not a post. That’s a multi-volume book.
So, to reiterate, this list contains only federal officials, appointed and elected, indicted and convicted while in office. More than a few of them were re-elected after conviction and some while still serving time. You get the government you deserve.
Many people who were convicted during the term of one president did the crime and the time (and were elected or appointed) during an earlier presidency. Typically, regardless of political affiliation, new presidents pardon the miscreants convicted from earlier administrations. It’s a courtesy, one President to another. Nice.
On the other hand, it’s heartwarming to know if you get nailed, the next guy in office will pardon you too.
Obama (D) Presidency
- Samuel B. Kent (R) The Federal District Judge of Galveston, Texas. Sentenced May 11, 2009 to 33 months for lying about sexually harassing 2 female employees. Appointed by George H. W. Bush (1990).
- Thomas Porteous (D), Federal Judge of the US District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana), impeached, convicted and removed from office December 8, 2010. Charges of bribery and lying to Congress. Appointed by Bill Clinton (1994).
Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) pled guilty February 20, 2013 to fraud, conspiracy, making false statements, mail fraud, wire fraud, and criminal forfeiture after using approximately $750,000 in campaign money for personal expenses. Not yet sentenced.
2001–2009 George W. Bush (R) Presidency
- Lewis Libby (R) Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney (R). ‘Scooter’ convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the Plame Affair, March 6, 2007. Sentenced to 30 months and fined $250,000. Sentence commuted by George W. Bush (R), July 1, 2007.
- Lester Crawford (R) Commissioner of the FDA, resigned. Pled guilty to conflict of interest. Sentenced to 3 years suspended and fined $90,000 (2006).
- Claude Allen (R) Advisor to President Bush on Domestic Policy. Arrested for multiple felony thefts in retail stores. (2006) Convicted and resigned.
- Darleen Druyun (D) Principal Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. Pled guilty to corruption charges, sentenced to 9 months and fined $5,000, with 3 years supervised release and 150 hours community service.
Jack Abramoff CNMI congressional influence peddling scandal involving immigration and minimum wage laws. Congressmen convicted in the Abramoff scandal included:
- Tom DeLay (R-TX) House Majority Leader. Reprimanded twice by the House Ethics Committee. DeLay resigned June 9, 2006. Illegally channeled funds from Americans for a Republican Majority to Republican state legislator campaigns. Convicted in 2010 by a Texas court of money laundering and conspiracy. Sentenced to 3 years.
- Michael Scanlon (R) former staff to Tom DeLay: working for Abramoff, pled guilty to bribery.
- Tony Rudy (R) former staff to Tom DeLay, pled guilty to conspiracy
- James W. Ellis (R) executive director of Tom DeLay’s political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority (ARMPAC), indicted for money laundering.
- John Colyandro (R) executive director of Tom DeLay’s political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC), indicted for money laundering.
- Bob Ney (R-OH) pled guilty to conspiracy and lying in exchange for legislative favors. 30 months.
- Duke Cunningham (R-CA) pled guilty on November 28, 2005 to conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion (Cunningham scandal). Sentenced to 8+ years in prison.
- William J. Jefferson (D-LA). August 2005, the FBI seized $90,000 in cash from Jefferson’s home freezer. Was re-elected anyway, but lost in 2008. Convicted of 11 counts of bribery and sentenced to 13 years, November 13, 2009.
- Jefferson’s Chief of Staff Brett Pfeffer, sentenced to 84 months for bribery (2006).
- Bill Janklow (R-SD) convicted of second-degree manslaughter for running a stop sign and killing a motorcyclist. Resigned from the House. 100 days in county jail plus 3 years probation (2003).
- Jim Traficant (D-OH). Convicted on 10 felony counts of financial corruption. Sentenced to 8 years in prison. Expelled from the US House of Representatives. (2002)
- Larry Craig Senator (R-ID). Married Senator and vocal critic of Clinton’s affair, pled guilty to disorderly conduct in a Minneapolis airport men’s room, after having been arrested on a charge of homosexual lewd conduct (2007).
- Frank Ballance (D-NC) admitted to federal charges of money laundering and mail fraud in October 2005. Sentenced to 4 years.
1993–2001 Clinton (D) Presidency
- Mel Reynolds (D-IL). Convicted of 12 counts of bank fraud (1999).
- Walter R. Tucker III (D-CA). Sentenced to 27 months 1996, extortion and tax evasion (1995).
- Barbara-Rose Collins (D-MI). Convicted on 11 counts of illegally using campaign funds for personal use (1997).
- Austin Murphy (D-PA) convicted of 1 count of voter fraud for filling out absentee ballots for members of a nursing home (1999).
House Banking Scandal — 450 members of the House of Representatives overdrew their checking accounts and were never penalized. Six were convicted of related charges, and 22 others were sanctioned by the House Ethics Committee (1992):
- Buz Lukens (R-Ohio) was convicted of bribery and conspiracy.
- Carl C. Perkins (D-Kentucky) pled guilty to a check kiting multiple financial institutions including the House Bank.
- Carroll Hubbard (D-Kentucky) convicted of illegally funneling money to his wife’s 1992 congressional campaign.
Congressional Post Office scandal (1991–1995) was a conspiracy to embezzle House Post Office money through stamps and postal vouchers to congressmen:
- Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL) — sentenced to 18 months, 1995.
- Joe Kolter (D-Pennsylvania) convicted of 1 count of conspiracy. Sentenced to 6 months.
- Jay Kim (R-CA) accepted $250,000 in illegal 1992 campaign contributions. Sentenced to 2 months house arrest (1992).
1989–1993 George H. W. Bush (R) Presidency
- Robert Frederick Collins (D) Judge of the US District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana). Convicted of bribery. Sentenced to 6 years 10 months.
- Walter Nixon (D) US Judge (Mississippi) (appointed by Lyndon Johnson,1968). Impeached by House and convicted by the Senate for perjury (1989).
Catalina Vasquez Villalpando, (R) Treasurer of the United States. Pled guilty to obstruction of justice and tax evasion (1992).
- Nicholas Mavroules (D-Massachusetts). Convicted of extortion, accepting illegal gifts and failing to report income. Pled guilty to 15 counts in April 1993. Sentenced to 15 months. (1993)
- Albert Bustamante (D-Texas) — Convicted of accepting bribes (1993).
- David Durenberger Senator (R-Minnesota) — Denounced by Senate for unethical financial transactions and disbarred (1990). Pled guilty to misuse of public funds. One year probation (1995).
1981–1989 Reagan (R) Presidency
Housing and Urban Development Scandal concerned bribery by selected contractors to get low-income housing project government contracts:
- James G. Watt (R) United States Secretary of the Interior, 1981–1983, charged with 25 counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. Sentenced to five years probation, fined $5,000 and 500 hours of community service.
- Deborah Gore Dean, (R) Executive Assistant to (Samuel Pierce, Secretary of HUD 1981–1987, and not charged). Dean was convicted of 12 counts of perjury, conspiracy, bribery. Sentenced to 21 months in prison (1987).
- Phillip D. Winn (R) Assistant Secretary of HUD, 1981–1982, pleaded guilty to bribery in 1994.
- Thomas Demery, (R) Assistant Secretary of HUD, pleaded guilty to bribery and obstruction.
- Joseph A. Strauss, (R) Special Assistant to the Secretary of HUD, convicted for accepting payments to favor Puerto Rican land developers in receiving HUD funding.
Wedtech scandal: Wedtech Corporation convicted of bribery for Defense Department contracts:
- Mario Biaggi (D-New York) sentenced to 2½ years. (1987)
- Robert Garcia (D-New York) sentenced to 2½ years.
Iran-Contra Affair (1985–1986) involved secret arms sales to Iran in an attempt to secure the release of hostages and let US intelligence agencies fund Nicaraguan Contras (violation of Boland Amendment):
- Caspar Weinberger (R) United States Secretary of Defense, indicted on 2 counts of perjury and 1 count of obstruction of justice on June 16, 1992. Weinberger received a pardon before his trial from George H. W. Bush on December 24, 1992.
- Robert C. McFarlane (R) National Security Adviser, convicted of withholding evidence. Given 2 years probation. Pardoned by President George H. W. Bush.
- John Poindexter (R) National Security Advisor, was convicted on April 7, 1990 for his role in the Iran-Contra Affair. Convictions were reversed in 1991 on appeal .
- Oliver North (R) Member of the National Security Council, was fired by President Reagan on the same day Poindexter resigned. North was found guilty of perjury and conspiracy, but charges were overturned on appeal.
- Elliott Abrams (R) Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, convicted of withholding evidence. 2 years probation, pardoned by President George H. W. Bush.
- Michael Deaver (R) White House Deputy Chief of Staff to Ronald Reagan 1981–85, pled guilty to perjury related to lobbying activities and was sentenced to 3 years probation and fined $100,000.
Sewergate: A scandal in which funds from the EPA were selectively used for projects which would aid politicians friendly to the Reagan administration:
- Rita Lavelle (R), assistant EPA Administrator, US Environmental Protection Agency misused ‘superfund’ monies and was convicted of perjury. Served 6 months and fined $10,000 with 5 years probation (1984) (Note: And let’s not worry about cleaning up those hazardous waste sites.)
- David Durenberger Senator (R-Minnesota), denounced by the Senate for unethical financial transactions (1990) and disbarred (1995). Pled guilty to 5 counts of misuse of public funds. 1 year probation.
- Donald E. “Buz” Lukens (R-Ohio). Convicted of two counts of bribery and conspiracy (1996).
ABSCAM FBI sting involving fake ‘Arabs’ trying to bribe 31 congressmen. (1980). The following Congressmen were convicted:
- Harrison A. Williams Senator (D-New Jersey) was convicted on 9 counts of bribery and conspiracy. Sentenced to 3 years.
- John Jenrette Representative (D-South Carolina) sentenced to two years in prison for bribery and conspiracy.
- Richard Kelly (R-Florida) accepted $25K. Claimed he was conducting his own investigation into corruption. Served 13 months.
- Raymond Lederer (D-Pennsylvania) “I can give you me” he said after accepting $50K. Sentenced to 3 years.
- Michael Myers (D-Pennsylvania) Accepted $50,000 saying: “…money talks and bullshit walks.” Sentenced to 3 years and was expelled from the House.
- Frank Thompson (D-New Jersey) sentenced to 3 years.
- John M. Murphy (D-New York) Served 20 months of a 3-year sentence.
- Mario Biaggi (D-New York), Convicted of obstruction of justice and accepting illegal gratuities he was sentenced to 2½ years in prison, fined $500,000 for his role in Wedtech. Resigned just before expulsion from the House. The next year he was convicted of another 15 counts of obstruction and bribery (1988).
- Pat Swindall (R-Georgia) convicted of 6 counts of perjury. (1989)
- George V. Hansen (R-Idaho) censured for failing to file out disclosure forms. Spent 15 months in prison.
- Frederick W. Richmond (D-New York),Convicted of tax evasion and possession of marijuana. Served 9 months (1982)
- Dan Flood (D-Pennsylvania) censured for bribery. Deadlocked jury. Pled guilty, got 1 year probation.
- Joshua Eilberg (D-Pennsylvania) pled guilty to conflict-of-interest. Convinced president Carter to fire the US Attorney investigating his case.
Judicial branch scandals
- Alcee Hastings (D-Florida), Federal District court judge impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate of soliciting a bribe (1989). Subsequently elected to the US House of Representatives (1992)
- Harry Claiborne (D-Nebraska), Federal District court Judge impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate on two counts of tax evasion. He served 1 year.
1977–1981 Carter (D) Presidency
- Fred Richmond (D-New York) – Convicted of tax fraud and possession of marijuana. Served 9 months in prison. Charges of soliciting sex from a 16-year-old boy were dropped after he agreed to counseling (1978).
- Charles Diggs (D-Michigan). Convicted on 29 charges of mail fraud and filing false payroll forms in kickback scheme. Sentenced to 3 years (1978).
- Michael Myers (D-Pennsylvania) Received suspended six-month jail term after pleading no contest to disorderly conduct charged stemming from an incident at a Virginia bar in which he allegedly attacked a hotel security guard and a cashier.
- Frank M. Clark (D-Pennsylvania) pled guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion, June 12, 1979. Sentenced to 2 years.
Koreagate scandal involving alleged bribery of more than 30 members of Congress by the South Korean government represented by Tongsun Park:
- Richard T. Hanna (D-California). Convicted and sentenced to 6 years in prison.
- Richard Tonry (D-Louisiana) pled guilty to receiving illegal campaign contributions.
1974–1977 Ford (R) Presidency
- James F. Hastings (R-New York), convicted of kickbacks and mail fraud, he also took money from his employees for personal use. Served 14 months at Allenwood penitentiary (1976).
- John V. Dowdy (D-Texas), Allegedly tried to stop a federal investigation of a construction firm. He served 6 months in prison for perjury (1973).
- Bertram Podell (D-New York), pleaded guilty to conspiracy and conflict of interest. He was fined $5,000 and served four months in prison (1974).
- Frank Brasco (D-New York) sentenced to 3 months in jail and fined $10,000 for conspiracy to accept bribes from a reputed Mafia figure for truck leasing contracts from the post office and loans to buy trucks.
- Richard T. Hanna (D-CA), convicted in an influence-buying scandal (1974).
1969–1974 Nixon (R) Presidency
Watergate: A Really, Really Big Scandal
Watergate (1972–1973) was about Republican “operatives” bugging Democratic Party National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel entailing a burglary. Which was discovered and exposed in the biggest and baddest government scandal of modern times and the only one that led to the resignation of a sitting president. The only resignation of any sitting president.
If you are too young to have watched the spectacle on television, you can catch up by watching “All The President’s Men.” It’s not as good as the real thing, but it’s as close as you’re going to get. You might watch “Frost-Nixon” too.
The attempted cover up of the affair by President Richard Nixon (R) and his staff resulted in 69 government officials being charged and 48 pleading guilty, including 7 for actual burglary. Eventually, Nixon resigned his presidency. It wasn’t what he did that got him. It was his stupid attempt to cover it up. If he had admitted it and apologized, it probably would have blown over.
Eventually all the malefactors found Jesus, wrote books, and made a fortune on the lecture circuit. Presumably, justice was served. There’s a moral in there. I have no idea what it is.
The following were indicted and convicted:
- John N. Mitchell (R) former Attorney General, convicted of perjury.
- Frederick C. LaRue (R) Advisor to John Mitchell, convicted of obstruction of justice.
- Richard Kleindienst (R) Attorney General, found guilty of “refusing to answer questions” given one month in jail.
- H. R. Haldeman (R) Chief of Staff for Nixon, convicted of perjury.
- John Ehrlichman (R) Counsel to Nixon, convicted of perjury.
- Egil Krogh (R) Aide to John Ehrlichman, sentenced to 6 months.
- John W. Dean III (R) Counsel to Nixon, convicted of obstruction of justice.
- Dwight L. Chapin (R) Deputy Assistant to Nixon, convicted of perjury.
- Charles W. Colson (R) Special Consul to Nixon, convicted of obstruction of justice.
- Cornelius Gallagher (D-New Jersey) pled guilty to tax evasion. Served 2 years.
- J. Irving Whalley (R-Pennsylvania) In 1973, received suspended 3-year sentence and fined $11,000 for using mail to deposit staff salary kickbacks and threatening an employee to stop her from informing the FBI.
- Martin B. McKneally (R-New York) 1 year probation and fined $5,000 in 1971 for failing to file income tax return. He had not paid taxes for many years prior. (Note: They’d have tossed me in jail and thrown away the key.)
- New York US Representative James Fred Hastings (R-NY) was a delegate to the 1968 Republican National Convention and the 1972 Republican National Convention. Elected to Congress in 1968. Served from January 3, 1969 until he resigned January 20, 1976 after being convicted of taking kickbacks and mail fraud. Served 14 months at Allenwood penitentiary (1976).
1963–1969 Lyndon B. Johnson (D) Presidency
Ted Kennedy — Senator (D-Massachusetts) drove his car into the channel between Chappaquiddick Island and Martha’s Vineyard, killing passenger Mary Jo Kopechne. Kennedy pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a suspended sentence of two months (1969). He also went on to be one of the nation’s finest legislators. Again, there’s a moral in there. Having taken that drive, it’s hard to believe it happened the way he said it did. I liked Teddy. I just didn’t believe him.
1961–1963 Kennedy (D) Presidency
Frank Boykin (D-Alabama) was placed on probation and fined $40,000 following conviction for conflict of interest and conspiracy to defraud the government. Pardoned by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965.
1953–1961 Eisenhower (R) Presidency
- Thomas J. Lane (D-Massachusetts) convicted for income tax evasion. Served 4 months, but was re-elected three more times before his 1962 defeat due to re-districting (1956).
- Ernest K. Bramblett (R-California) Received a suspended sentence and a $5,000 fine in 1955 for payroll padding and getting kickbacks.
1945–1953 Truman (D) Presidency
- Walter E. Brehm (R-Ohio) convicted of accepting illegal contributions from employees. Received 15 month suspended sentence and a $5,000 fine.
- J. Parnell Thomas (R-New Jersey), member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), was convicted of salary fraud and given 18 months and a fine. Resigned from Congress in 1950. He was imprisoned in Danbury Prison with two of the Hollywood Ten he had helped put there. (Note: Karma’s a bitch.) After serving, 18 months, was pardoned by Truman (D) in 1952.
- Andrew J. May (D-Kentucky) was convicted of accepting bribes in 1947 from a war munitions manufacturer. Sentenced to 9 months, then pardoned by Truman (D) in 1952.
1933–1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) Presidency
John H. Hoeppel (D-California) convicted in 1936 of selling an appointment to the West Point Military Academy. He was fined $1,000 and sentenced to 4–12 months.
1921–1923 Harding (R) Presidency
Teapot Dome Scandals: The Harding administration was rocked by scandals caused by Harding’s old Ohio friends who he had appointed to positions in his administration, known as the Ohio Gang. My mother to her dying day was convinced Harding was poisoned by his own “people.”
They did say it was food poisoning. Perhaps what they left out was what kind of poison was in the food?The list of the convicted included:
- Albert Fall (R) Secretary of the Interior, bribed by Harry F. Sinclair for control of the Teapot Dome federal oil reserves in Wyoming, the first (but by no means the last) U.S. cabinet member to be convicted. Served two years (1922).
- Charles R. Forbes (R) appointed by Harding as the first director of the new Bureau of Veterans Affairs. After constructing and modernizing VA hospitals, convicted of bribery and corruption. Sentenced to two years.
- Thomas W. Miller (R), Head of the Office of Alien Property: convicted of fraud by selling German patents seized after World War I and bribery. Served 18 months.
1901-1909 Theodore Roosevelt (R) Presidency
- Henry B. Cassel (R-Pennsylvania) was convicted of fraud related to the construction of the Pennsylvania State Capitol (1909).
- John Mitchell Senator (R-Oregon) was involved with the Oregon land fraud scandal, for which he was indicted and convicted while a sitting US Senator (1905).
- Joseph R. Burton Senator (R-Kansas), convicted of accepting a $2,500 bribe (1904).
1869–1877 Grant (R) Presidency
Whiskey Ring: Massive corruption of Ulysses S. Grant’s (R) administration involving whiskey taxes, bribery and kickbacks ending with 110 convictions (1875).
- Matthew Lyon (Democratic Republican-Kentucky). First Congressman to be recommended for censure after spitting on Roger Griswold (Federalist-Connecticut). The censure failed to pass. Also found guilty of violating John Adams’ Alien and Sedition Acts and sentenced to four months in jail, during which period he was re-elected (1798). Setting a precedent, I guess.
- John Pickering, Federal Judge (appointed by George Washington) was impeached and convicted in absentia by the US Senate for drunkenness and use of profanity on the bench though neither act was a high crime or misdemeanor (1804).