When five men were arrested in an attempt to bug Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate complex, no one anticipated that it would be the start of a scandal that would rock American politics for years to come. A $25,000 check that connected the burglars to President Nixon’s re-election campaign began a two year investigation into how much the President knew and when. Facing impeachment in the House of Representatives for refusing to provide taped documentation of his conversations, Nixon resigned on August 8, 1974. He became the first president to resign from office saying, "I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America."
Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings:
America ’s first presidential sex scandal may well have been Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings. The discussion of this affair spanned centuries. In 1802, while Jefferson was president, he was accused of having an affair with Hemings and fathering children by her. Jefferson denied these charged and continued serving as president. In 1998, DNA testing was conducted that proved there was a strong possibility that Hemings children were fathered by a male from the Jefferson line.
The Lewinsky Scandal:
Bill Clinton’s affair with twenty-two year old intern Monica Lewinsky prompted a political scandal that would lead to the President’s impeachment. Lewinsky confided details of her relationship to coworker Linda Tripp, who in turn taped the conversations. Clinton denied the affair saying “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” and when Tripp’s tapes were brought to light, faced charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. On December 19, 1998, Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives. He was acquitted by the Senate on February 12, 1999, but by that point the world knew the intimate details of Clinton ’s every encounter with Lewinksy.
Grover Cleveland ’s Son:
During his campaign for president in 1884, it was revealed that Grover Cleveland had an affair with and fathered a child by a woman named Maria Halpin. Cleveland paid child support for the son and arranged for him to be put in an orphanage when Halpin was no longer fit to raise him. In a rare move, when these allegations came to light, Cleveland admitted that they were in fact true. The public took to chanting "Ma, ma, where's my pa? Off to the White House, ha ha ha!", but the scandal did not prevent him from being elected president.
The Teapot Dome Scandal:
Warren Harding’s administration was marred by many scandals, the greatest being that of the Teapot Dome oil reserves. Albert Fall, the Secretary of the Interior, sold the rights to the reserves in Teapot Dome , Wyoming and various other locations for personal payout. He was eventually caught, convicted, and jailed but not before questions of how much Harding knew arose.