In 1999, Anthony Weiner became the Democratic representative of New York’s 9th congressional district. On May 27, 2011, he sent a photograph of his nether regions to one of his Twitter followers, with the area in question obscured only by a pair of gray boxer shorts. The scandal became known in the press as “Weinergate,” and when the congressman admitted his guilt in a June 6 press conference, he insisted that he would not resign his seat.
Though Weiner may survive the scandal, other politicians have not been so lucky. Click ahead to see the former icons who lost their status after sex scandals.
By Daniel Bukszpan, Special to CNBC.com
Updated 07 June 2011
In 2007, French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn became the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. He courted controversy by proposing that the dollar be replaced as the world’s reserve currency, and he was considered a leading contender for the French presidency in 2012. However, it all changed on May 14, 2011, when a maid at the Sofitel New York Hotel claimed that he sexually assaulted her.
Strauss-Kahn was removed from an Air France flight at Kennedy Airport and arrested that same day, moments before the plane would have taken off and flown him back to France. Two days later, he was charged with multiple felony counts, and if he’s convicted of all of them, he could be sentenced to almost 75 years in prison. He resigned his post at the IMF on May 18, 2011, and he has since pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him.
North Carolina senator John Edwards had served only a portion of his one term in the US senate before running for president in 2004. He lost the nomination, but was selected as Democratic nominee John Kerry’s running mate. The duo was dubbed “Kedwards,” a la “Bennifer” and “Brangelina,” and went on to lose the election to incumbent president George W. Bush. His wife, the late Elizabeth Edwards, was considered his best political advisor.
After Edwards’ unsuccessful 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, a story broke in The National Enquirer that he was having an extramarital affair. It turned out to be spot-on. Not only had Edwards had an affair with filmmaker Rielle Hunter, but he had fathered a child with her as well. Edwards has since reduced his profile considerably, and it is not known if he plans to return to the national stage.
Eliot Spitzer was the governor of New York State, and fellow Democratic governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico had once hailed him as the "future of the party." However, the honeymoon ended quickly. After his January 2007 inauguration, he began making enemies both in the state legislature and on Wall Street. By the time his first year in office was finished, he had lost much of his support.
In March 2008, The New York Times reported that Spitzer had patronized a prostitution ring called The Emperor’s Club. From there, Spitzer’s hold on public office quickly unraveled. Within two weeks he had resigned, and was replaced by Lieutenant Governor David Paterson. Since then, Spitzer has made inroads as a political commentator and hosts his own show, In The Arena, on CNN.
John Ensign was a Republican senator from Nevada who took office in 2001. He resigned in May 2011 after revelations that he was having an affair with Cynthia Hampton, the wife of one of his top aides. The aide, Douglas Hampton, confronted Ensign about the affair in 2008, and the senator pulled strings to place him with a lobbying firm, despite the fact that senior aides are prohibited from lobbying for a year after they leave their jobs.
An investigation by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) revealed other improprieties on Ensign’s part, including sexual harassment. Ensign finally came clean about the affair in June 2009 and stepped down from his post as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee. He resigned his senate seat on May 3, 2011. A report filed by the Special Counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics accuses Ensign of a number of violations related to the affair. He could be the target of federal prosecutors.
The Austrian-born bodybuilder won the Mr. Universe title at the age of 20, but he wanted more. Hollywood beckoned. Schwarzenegger went on to become one of the most bankable action movie stars in the world, with the success of The Terminator, Commando and Total Recall. However, in 2003 he became governor of California, his most impressive role yet.
“The Governator” served for over seven years, and left office in January 2011. Then, on May 9, 2011, he and wife Maria Shriver announced that they were separating after 25 years of marriage. The Los Angeles Times revealed that the actor and politician had fathered a child out of wedlock ten years earlier with one of their family’s household staff, and while it’s too early to tell what kind of an effect this revelation will have on Schwarzenegger’s future, he asked that his family be respected and left alone. "While I deserve your attention and criticism,” he said in a statement, “my family does not. "
Mark Hurd is the director of the Oracle Corporation, but he is best known for his last job, CEO of Hewlett-Packard. He joined the company in 2005 and immediately made his presence felt by laying off 10% of its employees. He then responded to the recent recession by cutting salaries across the board, including his own, which he slashed by 20%. However, the company became an industry leader once he took over, so few questioned his methods.
In August 2010, Hurd resigned from HP following allegations of sexual harassment, and he received a severance package of almost $35 million. However, Oracle Corporation CEO Larry Ellison, a close friend of Hurd’s, was incensed, and sent a letter to The New York Times claiming, “HP had a long list of failed CEOs until they hired Mark who has spent the last five years doing a brilliant job reviving HP to its former greatness.”
Gary Hart was a Democratic senator from Colorado who made his first attempt at the presidential nomination in 1984. He lost to former Vice President Walter Mondale, who went on to suffer a crushing defeat at the hands of incumbent president Ronald Reagan. Hart returned for round two during the following election cycle and announced his candidacy in April 1987. However, allegations that he was embroiled in an extramarital affair surfaced before long.
Hart decided to tackle the rumors head-on. He dared The New York Times to see for itself whether the rumors were true by saying, " If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead." The Times declined the offer, but The Miami Herald didn’t, and they soon turned up a photograph of a smiling Hart with actress Donna Rice on his lap. The photo ran in The National Enquirer, and Hart’s status as the presumed frontrunner for the 1988 nomination vanished.
Kwame Kilpatrick was the former mayor of Detroit. He first served the public in 1996 when he won a seat in the Michigan House of Representatives, and when he was elected mayor of Detroit in 2001, he was only 31 years old, the youngest person ever to the office. However, he was dogged by scandals that started off badly and only got worse. He was alleged to have held a party with strippers in the mayor’s mansion, and Kilpatrick’s wife allegedly assaulted one of them. One of the dancers was murdered one year later with a gun similar to those carried by the Detroit police.
In 2008 The Detroit Free Press examined thousands of texts between the mayor and his chief of staff, Christine Beatty, which revealed the two to be having an affair and embarking on romantic getaways financed with taxpayer funds. Kilpatrick was charged with misconduct in office, obstruction of justice, perjury, embezzlement, abuse of power, assault of a police officer, tax evasion and fraud. He has had new criminal charges leveled against him since then, and as recently as December 2010, he was indicted on new corruption charges that could keep him in jail for 30 years. He is currently in a federal penitentiary.
Larry Craig was a Republican senator from Idaho who served in that office for 18 years, and in the House of Representatives for ten years prior to that. His 28 years representing the people of the Gem State is one of the longest in Idaho history, but his reputation was permanently tarnished when he was arrested in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in 2007 for lewd conduct.
Several people had complained that the airport’s men’s room had been used for sexual activity, and a police officer had staked out one of the stalls to investigate. The officer saw Craig peeking into the stall, then tapping his foot as a signal that he wished to engage in sexual hijinx. He moved his foot closer and closer until it touched the officer’s foot, and then put his hand under the divider.
Craig was arrested, but insisted that it was all a misunderstanding, that he favored a “wide stance” at the urinal and that he had put his hand under the stall to pick up a piece of paper that he had dropped. He ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct and paid a $575 fine, although he always maintained that he was a victim of entrapment. Many of his senate allies urged him to resign, but he served out the remainder of his term and left office in 2009.
Before entering politics, Illinois Republican Jack Ryan worked for the Chicago branch of Goldman Sachs. When the company went public, he had a net worth of hundreds of millions of dollars, which allowed him to retire. However, greener pastures beckoned, and in 2004 he pursued the seat that was being vacated by outgoing senator, Peter Fitzgerald. He won the Republican primary and became the candidate for senate for the state of Illinois, but sadly, it was not to be.
During divorce proceedings, records were unsealed and went public, and so did allegations by his soon to be ex-wife Jeri Ryan, better known as Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager. She claimed that he had asked her to accompany him to bondage-themed sex clubs in New York, New Orleans, and Paris, and just a week after the records were made public, Ryan dropped out of the race. The Illinois GOP was forced into a last-minute scramble to find a candidate to replace him, settling on conservative activist and three-time presidential candidate Alan Keyes. Keyes won 27% of the vote, losing the election to an unknown state senator named Barack Obama.
Jim McGreevey was the 52nd governor of the state of New Jersey. The Democrat and former three-term mayor of Woodbridge Township also served concurrently in the state senate during his first term as mayor. He had run for governor once before in 1997, but was unable to beat the incumbent, Christie Todd Whitman. However, he ran again in 2001 and won.
McGreevey appointed Israeli Defense Forces veteran Golan Cipel as his homeland security advisor. The choice immediately raised eyebrows, as Cipel was not a US citizen and was unable to gain a security approval from the Federal government. Cipel stepped down from his position in 2002, but he threatened to sue the governor for sexual harassment, forcing McGreevey’s hand. in August 2004, McGreevey called a press conference, in which he admitted to being gay. He then resigned, effective November 15, 2004.