15 American Politicians Involved in Criminal Activities

Ephraim Obare
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Welcome to the wild, weird, and sometimes downright strange universe of American politics, where scandal seems as inevitable as tax increases and re-election campaigns. Over the years, numerous politicians have gone from the capitol building to the big house, proving that even the mighty are not exempt from the long arm of the law.

This riveting list of 15 American politicians involved in criminal activities will have you questioning your next trip to the ballot box.

Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon's presidential portrait
Photo credit: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

His presidency was marked by the infamous Watergate scandal, leading to his resignation – the only U.S. President to do so.

Wikipedia states that The Watergate scandal was an impactful political scandal in the United States during 1972-1974. It rocked the administration of President Richard Nixon and eventually forced his resignation.

Rod Blagojevich

Rod Blagojevich
Mug shot of Rod Blagojevich. This is THE ONE, almost eight years in jail, the Mug shot of Rod Blagojevich. on the 9th of December 2008 by the United States of America Marshals Service via Wikimedia Commons.

The former Governor of Illinois was convicted on corruption charges for attempting to sell Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.

Based on information from Wikipedia, in 2008, a federal investigation and trial unraveled the captivating tale of Blagojevich, charged with public corruption. His audacious attempt to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after his presidential election added intrigue to the narrative. Impeached, convicted, and consequently removed from office by the Illinois General Assembly in 2009, this scandalous chapter of political history kept the nation on the edge of its seats.

Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham

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DeanGarnerConsulting.com via Wikimedia Commons

This former California Congressman accepted $2.4 million in bribes and was thus sentenced to 8 years in prison. In a shocking turn of events, Cunningham decided to step down from the House on November 28th, 2005.

His resignation came shortly after pleading guilty to the revelation of accepting bribes amounting to at least $2.4 million, all while under-reporting his taxable income for 2004. As the gavel broke, a sentence of eight years and four months in prison was handed down, accompanied by a hefty restitution payment of $1.8 million.

James Traficant

Jim Traficant
James Traficant in the House from Ohio via Wikimedia Commons

A colorful character from Ohio, he was expelled from Congress following his conviction on corruption charges.

Spiro Agnew

Spiro Agnew
Spiro Agnew, 39th Vice-President of the United States and 55th Governor of Maryland via Wikimedia Commons

Nixon’s Vice President resigned in disgrace after being charged with tax evasion. Britannica states that Agnew’s downfall started to unravel in the summer of 1973, as he came under investigation for allegations of extortion, bribery, and income-tax violations. These charges were primarily associated with his time as the governor of Maryland.

William J. Jefferson

William J. Jefferson
Official photograph of William Jefferson, U.S. Congressman from Louisiana via Wikimedia Commons

Once, a Louisiana Congressman stashed $90,000 of bribe money in his freezer. A cold case, indeed!

According to Wikipedia, in a dramatic turn of events, FBI agents stormed Jefferson’s residence in Northeast Washington. The shocking discovery was revealed in an 83-page affidavit filed to support a subsequent raid on his Congressional office. Tucked away in the freezer, like a scene from a gripping thriller, was a staggering $90,000 cash stash. These crisp $10,000 bills were meticulously wrapped in aluminum foil, artfully concealed within frozen food packages.

Edwin Edwards

Edwin Edwards
Photo of Edwin Edwards, former Governor of Louisiana, via Wikimedia Commons

Former Governor of Louisiana, he was convicted of racketeering. Edwards, also known as the “very last of the line of New Deal, Southern Democrats,” was plagued by persistent allegations of corruption. Then, in 2001, he was convicted of racketeering charges, leading to a ten-year sentence behind bars.

Ray Nagin

20 American Politicians Who Did Not Live Up to America's Expectation
Jocelyn Augustino via Wikimedia Commons

Former Mayor of New Orleans, he was convicted on 20 counts of bribery and fraud. According to the Department of Justice, Ray Nagin, a man of power and influence, faced the weight of justice. He was found guilty of federal bribery, honest services wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, and tax charges.

Jesse Jackson Jr.

Jesse Jackson Jr.
Jesse Jackson, Jr., member of the United States House of Representatives via Wikimedia Commons

This Illinois Congressman was convicted of misusing campaign funds. CBS News stated, “Describing his campaign fund as his own “personal piggy bank,” former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced by a federal judge to 2 ½ years in prison. The reason? Misusing a staggering $750,000 campaign funds to finance an extravagant and luxurious lifestyle.”

Anthony Weiner

Anthony Weiner
Official portrait of United States Congressman Anthony Weiner via Wikimedia Commons

A New York Congressman whose career fell apart due to s@x scandals. He was caught in the act, sending sexu@lly explicit texts and images to young women while still married.

Larry Craig

Larry Craig
Larry Craig, United States Senate via Wikimedia Commons

Idaho Senator caught in a scandal over solicitous behavior in a public restroom. NPR states that during a layover, Craig innocently used a bathroom. Little did he know, an undercover officer observed his foot tapping and accused him of sexu@l solicitation.

David Durenberger

David Durenberger
David Durenberger as a U.S. Senator via Wikimedia Commons

The Senate denounced the Minnesota Senator for unethical financial activities. According to the New York Times, Dave Durenberger, the moderate Republican Senator from Minnesota, shook the Senate in 1990 when he was convicted of financial improprieties.

John Ensign

John Ensign
U.S. Senator John Ensign of Nevada via Wikimedia Commons

This Nevada Senator resigned amidst an investigation into an affair and alleged cover-up.

Budd Dwyer

Budd Dwyer
Budd Dwyer via Wikimedia Commons

Budd Dwyer was convicted of bribery. According to Wikipedia, in 1986, Dwyer found himself in a tight spot. You see, he was convicted of accepting a juicy bribe from none other than Computer Technology Associates, a California-based firm, all in exchange for awarding them a contract.

And that’s not all! He was found guilty on not one, not two, but eleven counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, perjury, and interstate transportation in aid of racketeering. Talk about trouble! And to top it all off, his sentencing was scheduled for January 23, 1987—quite the story.

John Rowland

John Rowland
Photographer – Calabrese, Anthony via Wikimedia Commons

Former Governor of Connecticut, convicted for corruption. The New York Times recorded that, once a prominent figure in politics, Gov. John G. Rowland faced the consequences of his actions.

In September, he was found guilty of political corruption charges, leading to a sentence of 30 months behind bars.

This line-up could put some crime serials to shame, couldn’t it? But remember, a few bad apples do not spoil the whole bunch. Most politicians are dedicated public servants working to improve their communities.

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Leon Perskie / FDR Presidential Library & Museum via Wikimedia Commons

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The White House from Washington, DC/Wikimedia Commons

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Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

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Author

  • Ephraim Obare

    Ephraim Obare is a versatile member of the Frenz Hub writing team, bringing a rich background in economics to his work. An avid swimmer, reader, and cyclist, Ephraim blends analytical insights with his diverse interests.

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