Conservative Controversies & Scandals
Historical Major Republican Scandals (Before 2014)
Palin abused her power by pressuring official to fire an Alaskan state trooper
Joe Arpaio used his political power to open criminal investigations against Maricopa County Board members. The investigations have been found to be bogus and politically motivated. All of the investigations, save for one, Sandra Dowling's, had to be dropped. None of the original counts that Arpaio brought against Dowling held up and she plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of patronage for hiring her daughter for a summer job.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) spent $150,000 of campaign contributions on clothing, hair styling, and makeup for Sarah Palin and her family in September 2008. Multiple shopping sprees at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and other high end stores were reported. Campaign spokespersons stated the clothing would be going to charity after the election. Palin and some media outlets blamed gender bias for the controversy. At the end of the campaign, Palin returned the clothes to the RNC.
The biggest project that Sarah Palin undertook as mayor of Wasilla was building an indoor sports complex, where locals played hockey, soccer, and basketball. The only catch was that the city began building roads and installing utilities for the project before it had unchallenged title to the land. The misstep led to years of litigation and at least $1.3 million in extra costs for a small municipality with a small budget. What was to be Ms. Palin's legacy has turned into a financial mess that continues to plague Wasilla.
Alaskan Republican State Senator John Cowdery was indicted on conspiracy and bribery charges stemming from FBI wiretaps. Cowdery is accused of scheming with Veco Corp. executives to buy the vote of another senator in the battle for an oil tax favored by North Slope oil producers. Cowdery pleaded guilty and sentenced to 6 months of home confinement and a fine of $25,000.
Jerry Lewis is under investigation for his ties to lobbyist and former congressman Bill Lowery. The investigation is reportedly an extension of the Duke Cunningham investigation.
Lott's brother-in-law, Richard Scruggs, was indicted on charges of offering a $40,000 bribe to a Mississippi state judge. Scruggs represented Lott and Representative Gene Taylor in settlements with State Farm after the insurer refused to pay claims for the loss of their Mississippi homes in Hurricane Katrina. Lott and Taylor had pushed through federal legislation to investigate claims with State Farm and other insurers, a conflict of interest. On July 30, 2008, during a deposition related to the Katrina claims, Zach Scruggs was asked by State Farm Fire & Casualty Cos. attorney Jim Robie, "Has it been your custom and habit in prosecuting litigation to have Senator Lott contact and encourage witnesses to give false information?" Zach Scruggs invoked the fifth.
On November 6, 2007, United States Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa announced an investigation of Hinn's ministry by the United States Senate Committee on Finance. In a letter to BHM, Grassley asked for the ministry to divulge financial information to the Senate Committee on Finance to determine if Hinn made any personal profit from financial donations, and requested that Hinn's ministry make the information available by December 6, 2007. Hinn refused to respond until 2008. After that he was commended for cooperating above and beyond what was required.
On October 30, 2007, the Spokane Spokesman-Review reported that Curtis and a 26-year-old man named Cody Castagna, who previously had posed for gay pornography, met at an adult bookstore, and that they later had sex in a local hotel room. Curtis was also alleged to have been seen previously and on that occasion clad in women's clothing, wearing them underneath his own. According to the police statement from Curtis, Castagna attempted to extort $1,000 from Curtis after the encounter, in return for not revealing his "gay lifestyle" to his family.
An aide to Mitt Romney has resigned from the campaign after being accused of using fake badges so he and other members of Romney’s campaign staff could enter closed areas and, in one instance, avoid paying a highway toll. Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal to use a badge without authorization and is punishable with a $50 fine. No legal actions have been taken.
In 2007, Florida House of Representative Bob Allen was arrested for offering $20 for the opportunity to perform fellatio on an undercover male police officer in the restroom of a public park and was released on bail. Since the time of his arrest, Allen has maintained his innocence, stating that he believed the undercover police officer was trying to rob him, and that he only offered to perform oral sex because he felt intimidated by the black and muscular police officer. Allen was convicted on November 9, 2007, and sentenced to six months' probation, and was fined $250. He resigned from the Florida House of Representatives on November 16, 2007.
In early July 2007, Vitter's phone number was included in a published list of phone records of Pamela Martin and Associates, a company owned and run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, also known as the "D.C. Madam", convicted by the U.S. government for running a prostitution service. Hustler identified the phone number and contacted Vitter's office to ask about his connection to Palfrey. The following day, Vitter issued a written statement in which he took responsibility for his sin and asked for forgiveness. On July 16, 2007, after a week of self-imposed seclusion, Vitter emerged and called a news conference. Standing next to his wife, Vitter asked the public for forgiveness. Following Vitter's remarks, Wendy Vitter, his wife, spoke. Both refused to answer any questions.
The Larry Craig scandal was an incident that began on June 11, 2007, with the arrest of Larry Craig—who at the time was a Senator from Idaho—for lewd conduct in a men's restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Craig later entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct. As a result of the controversy surrounding his arrest, subsequent guilty plea, and pressure from his fellow Republicans, Senator Craig announced his intention to resign from the Senate at a news conference. After failing to withdraw his guilty plea, on October 4, 2007, Craig released a statement refusing to resign as senator for Idaho.
In 2007 it was revealed that Stevens had remodeled his house which was paid for by the oil-field service company VECO. The FBI and IRS opened an investigation. By July of 2008, Stevens was indicted on seven counts of failure to report gifts and found guilty at a trial 3 months later. The conviction was later voided for misconduct on the part of the prosecutors and the indictments against Stevens were dismissed
Several high-ranking officials in the George W. Bush administration illegally used taxpayer-funded resources to campaign for Republican candidates during the 2006 midterm elections, an independent government watchdog concludes. Investigators also concluded that administration officials took over 100 politically motivated trips while claiming they were for official business. No disciplinary actions are being taken because none of the involved officials still hold public office.
Grover Norquist has been implemented Indian casino lobbying scandal where an estimated $85 million in fees were overcharged and used for illegal gifts. Abramoff and Scanlon grossly overbilled their clients, secretly splitting the multimillion-dollar profits. In one case, they were secretly orchestrating lobbying against their own clients in order to force them to pay for lobbying services. Norquist has denied any wrong doing and has yet to be charged with any crime.
In 2006, a male prostitute alleged that Haggard been hiring for him for sex for the past 3 years. He also accused Haggard of purchasing and using crystal meth. Haggard, who openly and often spoke against gay rights and the LGBT community, would first deny all the allegations against him but eventually admitted that almost all of it was true. He resigned from all leadership positions.
Jim Gibbons earmarked several millions of dollars to a company owned by Warren Trepp. Trepp had reportedly purchased cruises and other gifts including $100,000, gambling chips and cash, for Gibbons and his wife that Gibbons failed to report in his ethics filings. An investigation has been launched into the bribery allegations.
The Mark Foley scandal, which broke in late September 2006, centers on soliciting e-mails and sexually suggestive instant messages sent by Mark Foley, a Republican Congressman from Florida, to teenaged boys who had formerly served as congressional pages. Investigation was closed by the FDLE on September 19, 2008 citing insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges as both "Congress and Mr. Foley denied us access to critical data,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. The scandal has grown to encompass the response of Republican congressional leaders to previous complaints about Foley's contacts with the pages and inconsistencies in the leaders' public statements.
The Dick Cheney hunting incident occurred on February 11, 2006, when then U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney shot Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old Texas attorney, while participating in a quail hunt on a ranch in Kenedy County, Texas. Both Cheney and Whittington call the incident an accident.