Conservative Controversies & Scandals

Republican Corruption Scandals

  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy privately claimed that he believed Donald Trump was being paid by Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with his fellow GOP House leaders. The recorded conversation caught McCarthy saying “There’s two people I think Putin pays: [Rep. Dana] Rohrabacher and Trump.” Speaker Paul Ryan immediately interjected and stopped the conversation from proceeding.
  • Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump along with two other investors created a charity called Opening Day Foundation that is selling access to Donald Trump on and around inauguration day. The "charity" is accepting donations in exchange for a private reception with Donald Trump and potentially a private hunting event with the new President if the price is right.
  • The Kuwaiti government cancelled a major gala they planned to hold at the Four Seasons in Washington, D.C. after their ambassador received pressure from the Trump Organization to hold it at Trump's new hotel in the old Post Office building.
  • Business developers representing Trump Towers Pune, a luxury apartment complex that is currently being constructed in western India, met privately with Donald Trump just days after he was elected to be the 45th President. They met with Trump and other future administration officials at Trump Tower in New York City and raises a multitude of legal and ethical questions about how the future President will be able to separate the duties of the Presidency with his personal business dealings.
  • Donald Trump offered gifts to Megyn Kelly during the Presidential primary season in an attempt to get positive coverage from her on Fox News. Kelly accused Trump of offering her free nights at his hotels and other unspecified gifts and also accused Trump of doing the same to many other unnamed journalists. She said that "Trump tried to work the refs and some of the refs responded.”
  • In the state of Indiana, Kosciusko County Sheriff C. Aaron Rovenstine has been indicted by a grand jury on 10 separate criminal counts. The outspoken and lifelong Republican sheriff has been indicted on five official misconduct charges, three bribery charges, one intimidation charge and one assisting a criminal charge, ranging from 2011 to 2015. If convicted, Rovenstine could face anywhere from 8.5 years to 37 years behind bars.
  • Federal investigators are looking into whether Governor Chris Christie's administration committed securities law violations by spending nearly $2 billion of Port Authority funds on a state owned bridge. It is illegal to spend Port Authority funds on state owned infrastructure, but the Christie administration lobbied heavily to classify the bridge as an access road to the Lincoln Tunnel even though they are not connected. Investigators are attempting to determine if Governor Christie violated the Martin Act, which enables the state of New York to file suit if they feel Christie intentionally misled bond holders.
  • Shortly after his election, Governor Christie appointed two of his friends and political donors, John and Mary Kay Strangfeld, to the typically ceremonial positions of chairman and vice chairman at the Drumthwacket Foundation, a nonprofit that has restored and maintains the New Jersey Governors mansion. John Strangfeld is also the chairman of the insurance agency Prudential, a company that received a record-setting $250 million dollar tax incentive to move its Newark headquarters only a few blocks down the street. The number averages out to the taxpayers spending $527,000 per job that was created in the handout.
  • Rick Renzi, a former US Congressman from Arizona, was found guilty of 17 felony charges in his federal corruption trial. Mr. Renzi was accused of embezzling money from his insurance brokerage firm and funneling the cash to his election campaign, and of extortion in connection with a proposed federal land exchange in an ore-rich area of Arizona. Mr. Renzi is free on bail until his sentencing hearing on August 19th.
  • Federal authorities began questioning people close to the McDonnells as an outgrowth of a securities probe of Virginia-based Star Scientific Inc. They said FBI agents have asked questions about gifts the McDonnells have received from company CEO Jonnie Williams and whether the Republican governor or his administration aided the company in return.
  • Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is being investigated by the FBI regarding his connections with a major campaign donor that is also under investigation for questionable securities transactions. The FBI is looking into a $15,000 catering bill that campaign donor Jonnie R. Williams Sr. paid at Mr. McDonnell's daughters wedding, as well as various undisclosed gifts that Mr. McDonnell's wife received from Mr. Williams.
  • Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll has resigned and authorities have announced that nearly 60 people have been charged in a scandal that involves Internet cafes. Authorities say the cafes are really illegal casinos, and those involved have been using a purported veterans charity (Allied Veterans of the World) to siphon off millions of dollars the cafes generate. Authorities say the charity was a front for a $300 million gambling operation. The public relations firm Carroll co-owned (3N & JC) did work for the charity. She has not been charged with a crime and has denied doing anything wrong. She resigned a day after being questioned about the case.
  • Republican Pennsylvania State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and her sister were recently found guilty of campaign corruption charges and now look to join their sister, former State Senator Jane Orie--who was recently convicted of corruption herself--in state Prison. Many state lawmakers have called on Justice Melvin to resign her seat on the court or face articles of impeachment.
  • During the Hurricane Sandy clean up process, Governor Christie awarded a no bid, multi-million dollar contract to a company that contributed more than $50,000 to a PAC that invested heavily in electing Christie to the Governor's mansion. In total, at least four companies that donated heavily to New Jersey Republicans received state contracts to help in the clean up process.
  • In January 2013, conservative commentator Joshua Treviño filed a report under the Foreign Agent Registration Act disclosing that, from May 2008 until April 2011, he was paid $389,000 by the "Government of Malaysia, its ruling party, or interests closely aligned with either". His work was to organize an opinion campaign against former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. Treviño in turn made payments of up to $36,000 to several conservative American opinion writers who went on to write pro-government pieces on behalf of Malaysia, including Ben Domenech, Rachel Ehrenfeld, Seth Mandel, and Brad Jackson. Outlets in which their work appeared included the Huffington Post, the San Francisco Examiner, the Washington Times, National Review, and RedState.com.
  • Cliff Stearns has been accused of using a middleman to bribe his primary opponent, James Jett, to to drop out of the primary race. Jett claims he was told he could head the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or become a U.S. Marshal once an opening came up. Stearns has denied the allegations and an FBI investigation has been opened.
  • On February 4, 2012, a jury found White guilty of six of seven felony charges, including false registration, voting in another precinct, submitting a false ballot, theft, and two counts of perjury. He was acquitted on one fraud charge. The felony convictions automatically removed White from office. Hamilton County Superior Court Judge Steven Nation sentenced White to one year of house arrest, 30 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine. Nation refused to downgrade White's charges to misdemeanors, saying that his actions in the 2010 election were deliberate and therefore "violated the trust of the people." The conviction ends any chance of White regaining office even if his appeal of Rosenberg's ruling is successful.
  • On 1/28/2012, four current and former staff members of The Sun, a tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, under allegations of bribery of police and public officials. Two weeks later, five senior staff members of The Sun were also arrested. On 2/27/2012, it was revealed that the police were investigating a "network of corrupt officials" as part of their inquiries into phone hacking and police corruption. Evidence suggests a "culture of illegal payments" at The Sun authorized at a senior level.
  • Citing internal financial documents, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that a Wisconsin tax-exempt charity called Prosperity USA footed the bill for about $40,000 worth of iPads, chartered airplanes and other expenses as Cain’s campaign got off the ground early this year 2011.
  • Federal prosecutors have uncovered evidence that Arpaio has misused nearly 100 million dollars in jail funds. As the investigation continues, investigators expect that number to go well above the $100 million mark.