2015: The year in political scandals
From the Clinton emails to "Downton Abbey" offices, 2015 had its fair share of scandals. Here are some of the most memorable.
The Clinton emails
The multi-faceted scandal of the year erupted in early 2015 when it was revealed that Hillary Clinton had used a private, unsecured email server to conduct official State Department business when secretary of state. Clinton initially said she did not send or receive classified information via the server -- a claim that later turned out to be false, though she maintains such messages were not considered classified at the time. With a federal probe underway, the controversy continues to hang over her 2016 presidential bid.
Planned Parenthood undercover videos
The already controversial Planned Parenthood was hit by its biggest controversy yet in 2015 when videos surfaced of top officials discussing the harvesting of fetal body parts. While the organization claimed the videos were edited, images of one official casually discussing the body parts of aborted fetuses while sipping wine and eating salad, and another joking "I want a Lamborghini" as she haggled over the price of parts, sparked outrage and revitalized the ongoing push to strip the group of federal funds.
Schock's 'Downton Abbey' office
Republican Rep. Aaron Schock, of Illinois, was forced to resign in March after facing questions for weeks concerning his lavish spending from government and campaign accounts. Schock faced mounting accusations of using taxpayer dollars for personal expenses and claiming questionable reimbursements -- specifically his decision to decorate his office in the theme of the PBS show "Downton Abbey." A public watchdog group later filed a federal ethics complaint against him for using congressional money to redesign that office -- and for billing taxpayers or his campaigns tens of thousands of dollars in private air travel on donor-owned planes.
2015 brought the news that hackers, allegedly from China, had accessed the Social Security information of over 21 million Americans after breaching the systems of the Office of Personnel Management. Hackers also obtained fingerprint records and other information from background check investigations. The massive breach led to the resignation of agency chief Katherine Archuleta.
Oregon drama: Kitzhaber resigns
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, who was serving an unprecedented fourth term, stepped down in February in the wake of influence-peddling allegations involving his fiancee Cylvia Hayes, a green-energy consultant. Hayes had been under increasing scrutiny since October, when a series of reports chronicled her work for organizations with an interest in Oregon public policy. That work came about when she was serving as an unpaid adviser in the governor's office. Amid the attention, Hayes revealed she accepted about $5,000 to illegally marry an immigrant seeking benefits in the 1990s. Later, she acknowledged purchasing a remote property with the intent to illegally grow marijuana.
Secret Service misconduct
Adding to the problems for an agency that has seen its fair share of scandals, in March two agents -- one of whom was on President Obama's security detail -- allegedly drove a government car while intoxicated onto an active scene near the white house where a suspicious item was being investigated. It was later revealed that Secret Service chief Joe Clancy did not learn about the incident until five days later. Following this incident, the administration also apologized after it was revealed Secret Service employees improperly accessed an unsuccessful job application from now-Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who has been investigating the agency, in an apparent bid to embarrass him.
An investigative book by Peter Schweizer named "Clinton Cash," along with a series of news reports, revealed a number of startling details about the relationship between the Clintons, their philanthropic Clinton Foundation and a number of foreign governments while Clinton was secretary of state. Schweizer's research detailed how the Clinton Foundation received big donations from foreign entities and governments, while Bill Clinton received huge speaking fees for speeches from foreign governments. Schweizer claims these huge fees were in return for favors, though Clinton allies have rejected the allegations.