American Politics Has Long History of Sex Scandals

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ABC News reported Friday that former Sen. John Edwards admited in an interview to having an affair with a campaign staff member and lied about it during his presidential candidacy. It's hardly the first sex scandal in American political history:

1802 — Affair is rumored between President Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings. DNA tests of their descendents confirm it in 1998.

1884 — President Grover Cleveland wins election despite illegitimate child, with opponents chanting, "Ma, ma, where's my pa? / Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha."

1974 — Wilbur Mills, an Arkansas Democrat and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is stopped for speeding. His passenger, a stripper with the stage name "Fanne Fox, the Argentine firecracker," jumps out of his car and into the capital's Tidal Basin.

1976 — Ohio Rep. Wayne L. Hayes, a Democrat and chairman of the House Administration Committee, resigns over a scandal involving the raise he gave Elizabeth Ray, his secretary and also his mistress.

1980 — Rep. Robert Bauman, a leading Republican conservative from Maryland, pleads not guilty to soliciting sex from a 16-year-old boy. Charges later are dropped after he agrees to treatment for alcoholism.

1983 — The House reprimands Illinois Republican Dan Crane and Massachusetts Democrat Gerry Studds for having sexual affairs with congressional pages.

1987 — Colorado Sen. Gary Hart, a Democratic presidential candidate, is caught with a 29-year-old Miami model named Donna Rice on a yacht called Monkey Business at a Caribbean resort.

1989 — The House votes to reprimand Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, for his relationship with a male prostitute whom he hired as his personal assistant.

1992 — A tabloid newspaper pays Gennifer Flowers to recount a 12-year affair with Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton shortly before the Democratic presidential primaries.

1992 — Republican Sen. Bob Packwood of Oregon apologizes after 10 women accuse him of sexual harassment. He later resigns after the ethics committee finds him guilty of sexual misconduct.

1994 — Rep. Mel Reynolds, an Illinois Democrat, is indicted and later convicted for sexual assault of a 16-year-old campaign volunteer.

1998 — News of President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky comes to light through a sexual-harassment suit against him by Paula Jones.

2004 — New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey steps down after disclosing an affair with his homeland-security adviser, an appointment he made despite the man's limited qualifications.

2006 — Sexual emails and instant messages between Rep. Mark Foley, a Florida Republican, and congressional pages surface just before the November midterm election.

2007 — Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, is reported to be on the phone records of a Washington madam.

2007 — Sen. Larry Craig, an Idaho Republican, pleads guilty to disorderly conduct in a men's room and a police officer testifies he was soliciting sex.

2008 — New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer apologizes and resigns after a report that he was involved in a prostitution ring.

Source: "Washington's Sex Scandals," Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2008.