10 Biggest US Presidential Scandals

Scandals have plagued the American presidency almost since the founding of the country. There have been major and minor scandals during the administration of many if not most of the presidents. Here is a list of Top 10 Biggest US Presidential Scandals that rocked the presidency. Also, are still live among people as an unforgettable retention. Enjoy!

The 10 Fascinating US Presidential Scandals:

10. Ma, Ma, Where’s My Pa?

Top 10 Biggest US Presidential Scandals
Grover Cleveland.

Grover Cleveland is best known as the only president in history to be elected for two non-sequential terms. During his first electoral campaign in 1884 information was released that he previously had an affair with a widow named Maria C. Halpin who had given birth to a son. She claimed that Cleveland was the father and named him Oscar Folsom Cleveland. Cleveland agreed to pay child support and then paid to put the child in an orphanage when she was no longer fit to raise him.

Unusual for a candidate mired in such a scandal Cleveland admitted guilt in the matter. Chants of “Ma, ma, where’s my pa? Off to the White House, ha ha ha!” became popular throughout the country, but it did not stop Cleveland from getting elected. He was honest about the entire affair. This helped rather than hurt him, and elected again in 1892.

9. Petticoat Affair

10 Biggest US Presidential Scandals
Jackson Shaffer Family (image courtesy rootsweb.ancestry.com)

The Petticoat affair was an 1830–1831 U.S. scandal involving members of President Andrew Jackson’s Cabinet and their wives. This is often forgotten but at the time major scandal under the presidency of Andrew Jackson, one of the most famous presidents in United States history.

Although it started over a private matter, it affected the political careers of several men and resulted in the informal “Kitchen Cabinet”. It began with the marriage of Jackson’s secretary of war, John Henry Eaton, to recently widowed Margaret Timberlake, whose husband had committed suicide. The marriage proved a great scandal in American high society, with rumors that Eaton had been having an affair with Timberlake which led to her first husband’s suicide.

Most of Jackson’s cabinet turned against Eaton but Jackson supported him, and the controversy led to such a conflict that almost Jackson’s entire cabinet resigned over the issue. The 1936 film The Gorgeous Hussy is based on the affair.

8. Marilyn Monroe and the J.F. Kennedy

10 Biggest US Presidential Scandals
Marilyn Monroe and the J.F. Kennedy

Marilyn Monroe was perhaps the most start crossed lover in history. On one hand was her dazzling success in tinsel town and on the other, her volatile and highly secret relationships with the much-married President of the US and his brother.

Monroe’s name was linked to both John F Kennedy and Robert F Kennedy. Although many in the political circles knew of the affairs, they were carefully hushed up so that the public had no clear facts to chew on. Monroe however was becoming a public embarrassment and had even threatened to go public about the President’s infidelities. But her plans were short-lived as she was found dead in her home under mysterious circumstances.

Although official reports say she committed suicide, there have always been rumors that the Kennedy’s had her ‘removed’ to protect their political image. The truth still remains elusive.

All of these scandals created a lot of furor and brought bad publicity to the politician(s) and the political party involved. But none had such a far reaching impact as the Watergate scandal which caused, for the first time, a reigning President to resign fearing impeachment.

7. Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings

Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings

Thomas Jefferson’s alleged relationship with Sally Hemmings was the first presidential sex scandal in the United States and prompted a discussion that continues to this day. In 1802 Jefferson was charged with having an affair with his slave, Sally Hemmings, and in fact fathering a child. Jefferson denied the charges and remained as president for another 7 years, however the debate about the truth of the matter continued until 1998 when DNA testing proved that Jefferson more than likely fathered at least one of Sally Hemming’s children. [voices.yahoo]

6. Credit Mobilier Scandal

10 Biggest US Presidential Scandals
Keppler Credit Mobilier Hari-Kari (Image courtesy Wikipedia)

The Credit Mobilier scandal was the first major corruption scandal in the wake of the Civil War. The Credit Mobilier company was found to be stealing from the Union Pacific Railroad in 1868. However, they tried to cover this up by selling stocks in their company at a large discount to government officials and Congress members including Vice President Schuyler Colfax. When this was discovered, it hurt many reputations including that of Ulysses S. Grant’s VP. The story was broken by the New York newspaper, The Sun, during the 1872 presidential campaign, when S. Grant was running for re-election. The scandal’s origins dated back to the Abraham Lincoln presidency, when the Union Pacific Railroad was chartered in 1864 by the federal government and the associated Crédit Mobilier was established.

5. The Whiskey Ring

10 Biggest US Presidential Scandals
Ulysses S. Grant

Grant’s presidency is often considered to be one of the most corrupt in history. And with good reason, as two major scandals took place during his presidency. The second was the Whiskey Ring scandal; Involving a bribery and tax evasion scandal among many high ranking members of his cabinet (and even his own private secretary) and whiskey distillers. In 1875, it was revealed that many government employees were pocketing whiskey taxes. Grant called for swift punishment but caused further scandal when he moved to protect his personal secretray who had been implicated in the affair.

4. Iran-Contra

10 Biggest US Presidential Scandals
Reagan meets with aides on Iran-Contra

This biggest political scandal in the United States that came to light in November 1986. During the Reagan administration, senior administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, the subject of an arms embargo. Several individuals in Ronald Reagan’s administration were implicated in the Iran-Contra Scandal. Basically, money that had been obtained through selling arms to Iran was given secretly to the revolutionary Contras in Nicaragua. Other than helping the Contras, the hope was that by selling the weapons to Iran, terrorists would be more willing to give up hostages. This scandal resulted in major Congressional hearings.

3. Lewinsky Scandal

The Lewinsky scandal

The Lewinsky scandal was a political sex scandal emerging in 1998, from a sexual relationship between United States President Bill Clinton and a 22-year-old White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.

Perhaps no other scandal in presidential history can equal the Monica Lewinsky affair for pure sensationalism and absurdity. Bill Clinton was implicated in a couple of scandals, the most significant for his presidency was the Monica Lewinsky affair. Lewinsky was a White House staffer with whom Clinton had an intimate relationship. He had previously denied this while giving a deposition in another case which resulted in a vote to impeach him by the House of Representatives in 1998. The Senate did not vote to remove him from office. But the event did mar his presidency as he joined Andrew Johnson as only the second president to be impeached.

2. Teapot Dome

10 Biggest US Presidential Scandals
Committee investigating the Teapot Dome oil leases in 1924

Warren G. Harding’s presidency was struck by many scandals. The Teapot Dome scandal was the most significant. Harding transferred control of naval oil reserve lands over to the Department of the Interior in 1921 (although it was later reversed by the Supreme Court, who ruled the move illegal). Then Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall used his new power for personal gain, giving rights to the Teapot Dome Reserve in Wyoming to the Mammoth Oil company in return for bribes.

When the scandal broke in 1924; He was found to have accumulated over $100,000 worth of bribes from the Mammoth Oil Company, among others. Although Harding had already died in office prior to the scandal breaking. It became a hot topic of controversy for years after his death and continues to plague his now infamous legacy. Before the Watergate scandal, Teapot Dome was regarded as the “greatest and most sensational scandal in the history of American politics”.

1. Watergate Scandal

10 Biggest US Presidential Scandals
The Watergate complex in Washington, D.C

There may be many scandals in the annals of United States presidential history. But none can compare for sheer impact with that of the Watergate scandal under the presidency of Richard M. This was a political scandal that occurred in the 1970s as a result of the June 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. And the Nixon administration’s attempted cover-up of its involvement. The scandal eventually led to the resignation of Richard Nixon, on August 9, 1974, the only resignation of a U.S. President. The scandal also resulted in the indictment, trial, conviction and incarceration of 43 people, including dozens of Nixon’s top administration officials.