political scandals in the United States

Posted by Shazy on Wednesday, February 16, 2011

political scandals in the United States
This article provides a list of political scandals of the United States. 

Scope and organization of political scandals

Scandals are organized by presidential term and then divided into scandals of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches. Members of both parties are listed under the term of the presiding president at the time the scandal took place.
There is no hard and fast rule defining scandals. Though the dictionary may define scandal as "loss of or damage to reputation caused by actual or apparent violation of morality or propriety", in politics scandal should be kept separate from 'controversy,' (which implies two differing points of view) and 'unpopularity.' Many presidents make unpopular decisions. Neither of these are scandals. A good guideline is whether or not an action is, or appears to be, illegal. Since everyone, particularly a politician, is expected to be law abiding, breaking the law is, by definition, a scandal. Misunderstandings, breaches of ethics, unproven crimes or cover-ups may or may not result in scandals depending on who is bringing the charges, the amount of publicity garnered, and the seriousness of the crime, if any. The finding of a court with jurisdiction is the sole method used to determine a violation of law.
By definition, political scandals should involve politicians and not private citizens. Civilians should be included only when they are closely linked to elected or appointed officials. Kenneth Lay of Enron, is a good example.
There is no bright line to distinguish "major" scandals from "minor" scandals, but rather scandals tend to be defined by the public themselves and the media's desire to feed that particular frenzy. Thus, small but salacious scandals, such as Larry Craig's (R-ID) arrest for lewd behavior can eclipse more serious scandals such as suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus in time of war.
What is also not so clear, is how far down the ladder of obscurity a scandal should go. During the Truman (D) administration 1966 local IRS staffers were found to be corrupt, but they were so far removed from Washington, Truman or any of his appointees, that it could hardly be called a 'Truman scandal.'
To keep the article a manageable size, Senators and Congressmen who are rebuked, admonished, condemned, suspended, found in contempt, found to have acted improperly, used poor judgement or were reprimanded by their Congressional body are not included unless the scandal is exceptional or leads to expulsion.
Not included in this article are pervasive systemic scandals, such as the role of money in "normal" politics which purchases access and influence. Neither are 'revolving door' stories, which is the practice of hiring government officials to promote or lobby for companies they were recently paid to regulate. Though some rules now apply, to a great extent this is legal.
Likewise, corporate scandals, failures or corruption are not included unless there is significant political involvement. Thus, the Lockheed bail out, Harken Energy, MCI Inc., Bernard Madoff, Tom Petters, and Allen Stanford are not included, but Scott W. Rothstein, VECO Corporation and Enron Scandal are.
Source: wikipedia