With all the talk that has been going around about the turnout in voters in the wake of Watergate, it may appear that presidential scandals were something new in the 70’s. However, this is untrue. There have been big and small scandals during the administration of many if not all of our presidents. Here’s a list of twenty of these scandals that rocked the presidency. #19 was a bombshell at the time the news broke. Slide #21 shows a video of the lesser known, but just as juicy, presidential scandals.
1. Bill Clinton: Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones
President Clinton lied under oath about having sexual relations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, on December 19th 1998. This caused him to be the 2nd impeached POTUS, along with Andrew Johnson.
Clinton also settled out of court with a sexual harassment lawsuit. It was filed by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones who received a whopping 850,000 dollars from Clinton.
2. Ronald Reagan: Iran-Contra
This scandal supposedly started as an attempt to free US hostages from the Islamist militant group Hezbollah. The CIA and National Security Council planned to sell arms to Iran secretly and use some of the loot to support financially the contra rebels in Nicaragua.
The money made from smuggling cocaine also helped finance the Contras, and unfortunately caused America’s crack cocaine epidemic.
3. Richard Nixon: Watergate
Nixon was the head of a smart heist. He instructed men to burgle the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel. However, these men were caught and seven of them were indicted with Nixon resigning and facing no criminal charges.
4. Ulysses S. Grant: Black Friday and Whiskey Ring
Grant’s brother in law Abel Rathbone Corbin was in cahoots with the elites of Wall Street Jim Fisk and Jay Gould in their attempt to steal from the U.S. gold market. This caused its epic crash on September 24th 1869. Grant also tried to hide how his secretary Orville Babcock was convicted for bribing officials in order to avoid the high post Civil War taxes placed on liquor.
5. Grover Cleveland: Maria Halpin Affair
Maria Halpin had a child named Oscar, and Grover Cleveland admitted he might be his son. What’s even more alarming is that Halpin said in an affidavit, Cleveland used force and violence in order to have sexual intercourse with her, and he didn’t have her permission.
6. Warren Harding: Nan Britton Affair
Nan Britton kept claiming that president Harding was the father of her child. Even though she was thought to only be after the money, genetic tests in 2015 proved that she was right.
Harding’s cabinet was also composed of his longtime friends. For example the Secretary of the interior was his poker partner.
7. James Garfield: Star Route Scandal
The administration of James Garfield was investigated for allegedly selling postal contracts in exchange for pay, to private wagons. These star routes were fake routes; and the scamming parties would split the profits without delivering the mail while illegally increasing the mail rates.
This was unlawfully practiced for more than thirty years with supposed 6 million dollars cost to the US treasury.
8. Jimmy Carter: The Lance Affair
Bert Lance was President Carter’s first budget director in 1977. Lance stepped down from his position in President Carter’s administration after numerous accusations of conspiracy and misuse of bank funds which caused the Senate to pressure him to leave.
9. Dwight Eisenhower: Accepted Gifts
Sherman Adams was president Eisenhower’s chief of staff; he resigned after he was accused of accepting a fancy fur coat and an Oriental rug in 1958.
Additionally, vice president Nixon was blamed for theft, stealing 18 000 dollars from supporters of President Eisenhower.
10. Gerald Ford: Pardoning Richard Nixon
President Gerald Ford forgave Nixon for ordering men to break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate hotel. He kept insisting that he didn’t receive anything for forgiving Nixon.
11. William McKinley: Oregon Land Fraud
President McKinley appointed Oregon U.S Federal District Attorney John Hall to investigate claims of bribery, fraud and allowing public land to be sold privately in order to flip a profit.
What ended up happening is: John Hall found these claims to be true, and then blackmailed the land owners. He was convicted for not prosecuting them, but was forgiven in the end.
12. James Buchanan: Dred Scott Decision
In this decision, Dred Scott who was born into slavery was prohibited from suing slave owner John Sanford for his freedom. African descendants at that time were not considered United States citizens. President Buchanan twisted the arms of the Supreme Court Justices which caused the invalidation of the Missouri Compromise as possibly sparked the Civil War.
13. Harry S. Truman: IRS corruption, Freezer Scandal
President Harry S. Truman and his administration were investigated by the Senate and House. More than 150 IRS employees got fired, resigned or were indicted because of bribe allegations.
White house officials were also found guilty of quid pro quo corruption because they accepted fur coats and deep freezers.
14. George W. Bush: Firing Attorneys, Missing E-mails
During President Bush’s term in 2006, 20 million plus e-mails of his administration vanished from the web servers of the Republican National Committee. Two years later however, these emails were said to have reappeared during President Obama’s term.
In addition to the lost emails, nine high-ranking attorneys were fired during the time Bush was POTUS.
15. President Barack Obama: NSA Surveillance
President Obama declared back in 2013 that nobody was listening to American’s telephone calls, in response to the hype about the NSA eavesdropping.
Additionally, the President defended the secret service’s practice of collecting personal information on the internet, which he labeled as a safety precaution for U.S. citizens.
16. Andrew Johnson: Impeachment Trial
After Lincoln’s assassination, succeeding President Andrew Johnson tried to carry out Honest Abe’s Reconstruction Plan which caused conflict between the Republicans and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.
Johnson’s plan to disregard the civil rights of blacks and forgive ex-confederates didn’t sit well with the outspoken Edwin Stanton, whom Johnson fired.
This action violated the Tenure of Office Act and caused President Johnson to be impeached.
17. Andrew Jackson: Petticoat Affair
The current face of the 20 dollars bill, Andrew Jackson, lost the majority of his cabinet when he backed the marriage of his Secretary of War John Eaton, to Margaret Timberlake aka Peggy O’Neill.
Peggy was improper for not mourning a whole year after her husband’s passing at sea, as tradition suggests. The story gets even messier because many believe that Peggy’s first husband actually committed suicide at sea because he learned of his wife’s affair with John Eaton.
18. John Adams: Imprisonment of Matthew Lyon over the 1798 Seditions Act
President John Adams passed a controversial four-part act which forbid speaking out against the government (thus violating the First Amendment) and advocated deportation.
Matthew Lyon, who was a republican congressman, was jailed for being the first violator of this Seditions Act.
19. Thomas Jefferson: Relationship with Slave Sally Hemings
There have been many reports of President Thomas Jefferson being the father of at least six of his slave Sally Hemings’ children. In 1998, DNA evidence suggests these historical accounts are likely to be true.
The controversy resides in the fact that Sally was Thomas’ late wife’s sister, and was only 14 years old as opposed to Jefferson who was 40 at the time. In this regard, their relationship can be viewed as a Founding Father repeatedly raping a child he owned.
20. Lyndon Johnson: Bobby Baker Investigation
The former 1962 Secretary to the Majority Leader Bobby Baker started a vending machine business he named Serv-U Corporation.
The controversy resides in the fact that the company earned Baker a questionable 3.5 million paycheck. He had probably arranged sexual favors for a payoff, and was also investigated for bribery and alleged mob ties.
Even though these allegations got quieter after JFK’s assassination, they were revisited in 1964 and almost cost him the election.
Here are 25 more lesser known presidential scandals that rocked the nation.