Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

10 Politicians Defined by Indiscretion

In the topsy-turvy world of politics, a respected career can plummet in just a matter of moments. With today’s ever-present media, few secrets are safe, as evidenced by the recent revelations that former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child with a mistress, his former housekeeper, and the disgraced managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Dominique Strauss-Kahn allegedly sexually assaulted a maid in a New York hotel. They join an extensive list of public officials who are defined by their indiscretions despite the work they’ve done, good or bad, in their respective positions. Read on to reflect on the who’s who of political bad boys.

  1. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund: Headlining our list is the aforementioned Strauss-Kahn, whose alleged behavior has repulsed Americans, some of his fellow countrymen in France — though certainly not all of them — and onlookers worldwide. The former lawyer and favorite to supplant current French president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012 supposedly has a history of misbehavior. In 2002, a French journalist accused him of attempted rape, and in 2008, the IMF investigated allegations that he used his power to coerce a subordinate into an affair. He was forced to resign as the IMF Chief after his bail plea was rejected and he was lodged in a jail. He was granted bail on Thursday.
  2. Arnold Schwarzenegger, 38th Governor of California: During the early stages of his campaign for governor in 2003, several women came forward alleging that Schwarzenegger made unwanted sexual advances toward them, leading to "Gropegate." Even though he admitted that he used to partake in bad behavior, his campaign flourished and he won the election by a comfortable margin. Eight years later, after splitting with Maria Shriver, his wife of 25 years, the news surfaced that he fathered a child with their former housekeeper more than a decade ago. Not a good situation for the purported family man.
  3. Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy: The plight of Berlusconi’s PDL party in recent elections can be attributed to his most recent sex scandal and the three corruption trials he faces. A poster child for how not to behave while in power, his indiscretions are too numerous to go over here, which is why we provided a list in the link. The man who once said the left "has uglier women" isn’t the most popular among women in Italy, many of whom find his attitude toward their sex repulsive. Currently, he’s in trouble for allegedly paying for sex with a nightclub dancer who was under 18. Fittingly, Berlusconi’s sex parties have become the talk of the world, as opposed to, say, his economic policies.
  4. John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States: He wasn’t the first Kennedy to have an affair and certainly wasn’t the last, but John’s were a little more memorable. It’s alleged that he had dalliances with numerous women, most famously Marilyn Monroe. Some say their first tryst occurred in Bing Crosby’s house in Palm Springs in 1962, at which point Monroe’s lust for the president evolved into an obsession, worsening her already fragile mental state. Other alleged Kennedy mistresses: Judith Exner, Gunilla von Post and Mary Pinchot Meyer.
  5. Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States: American presidents certainly haven’t been above womanizing. John F. Kennedy had Marilyn Monroe (among others, as previously mentioned), Dwight Eisenhower had Kay Summersby and Franklin Roosevelt had Lucy Mercer. More than one supposed mistress comes to mind when thinking of Clinton, but Monica Lewinsky was the one who actually managed to cripple his presidency. He had several sexual encounters with her in the White House, most of which took place in the Oval Office. His initial steadfast denial of the affair, which included false testimony under oath, resulted in his 1998 impeachment. Even still, the highest approval rating of his presidency, 73 percent, came on the day he was impeached.
  6. Charles, Prince of Wales: Sure, he’s more of a figurehead than a politician, but his high-profile marriage to Diana Frances, better known as Princess Diana, and the drama that unfolded while they were together captivated the world. Their "fairytale" marriage was disrupted by Camilla Parker Bowles, now his wife, whom he had known several years before he met Diana. The affair made headlines in the ’90s after transcripts of an intimate phone conversation between Charles and Camilla were published in the British tabloids. After Charles and Diana separated, Diana cited the affair as the reason their marriage failed.
  7. Newt Gingrich, 58th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and current presidential candidate: Because he was so instrumental in securing a Republican majority in the House in 1994 and the subsequent unified opposition against President Clinton’s policies, there will always be a soft spot in the heart of conservatives for Gingrich. Although he’s an early favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, his reputation isn’t exactly squeaky clean. In 1997, he was sanctioned by the House over ethical questions and was unanimously reprimanded. More infamously, while he was a leading investigator during the Clinton scandal, he carried on an affair with House of Representatives staffer Callista Bisek, whom he married in 2000. She will become a familiar face during the upcoming primaries, one that’ll serve as a constant reminder of his hypocrisy.
  8. John Edwards, former United States Senator from North Carolina, vice presidential candidate and presidential candidate: A promising 2008 ended in a thud for Edwards when he admitted in August, several months after his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination had officially sunk, that he had an affair with former campaign worker Rielle Hunter. She gave birth to a child in February of that year, and Edwards’ campaign aide Andrew Young initially claimed to be the father, which, according to Young, was urged by Edwards. The former senator admitted that he fathered the child in January 2010, 11 months prior to the death of his wife Elizabeth, who had been battling breast cancer since the day John Kerry and Edwards conceded defeat to George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election.
  9. Rudy Giuliani, 107th Mayor of New York City and former presidential candidate: Over the last few years, Giuliani’s personal life has been the subject to scrutiny from the press. He’s been married three times, once to his second cousin, and the relationship with his third wife, Judith Nathan, began while he was still married to his second wife, Donna Hanover. In 2000, he announced his separation from Hanover in a press conference without discussing his plans with her beforehand. Hanover responded by saying their relationship was strained due to his relationship with a staffer, a reference to his former mistress Cristyne Ford Lategano. As a result of his misdeeds, Giuliani became estranged from his two kids — his daughter Caroline supported Obama in 2008.
  10. Gary Hart, former United States Senator from Colorado and presidential candidate: Hart’s name will forever be tied to Donna Rice, the 29-year-old model with whom he had an affair during his failed bid for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination. A frontrunner when he entered the race, the campaign deteriorated with the help of the press, which tailed him until they found evidence of his relationship with Rice. Once the news broke, it became the focus of his campaign, and his poll numbers dropped drastically in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He eventually dropped out of the race, returned and then dropped out again, and Michael Dukakis won the nomination. Hart is proof that Monkey Business can ruin a once promising political career.