The Politician Perp Walk
When U.S. Rep Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) pled guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit bribery, mail and wire fraud, and tax evasion, joined a long list of politicians who have placed themselves above the law. For those of us little folks who aren’t so arrogant as to think that we can break the law with impunity, the knowledge that a crooked politician is going to jail is deeply satisfying.
The story got me thinking about similar powerful pols who were brought down by their own criminal activities. When I Googled "convicted politicians", I got lots of general sites like this one. So I decided to narrow the list to Congressmen (Congresswomen didn’t turn up anything) and came up with the following list, which is neither exhaustive nor even touch upon politicians mired in scandal or ethics troubles but not convicted of any crimes (e.g. Newt Gingrich [R-GA], Robert Torricelli [D-NJ]). It also doesn’t address convictions prior to 1995.
U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance (D-NC) Pled guilty in November 2004 to federal charges related to misuse of state money, including conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering.
U.S. Rep. Bill Janklow (R-SD) Convicted in December 2003 of second-degree manslaughter, speeding, running a stop sign, and reckless driving in the death of a motorcyclist with whom his vehicle collided. Sentenced to 100 days in jail and three years probation.
U.S. Rep. James Traficant (D-OH) Convicted in April 2002 of charges including bribery, racketeering, tax evasion, and obstruction of justice. Sentenced to eight years in prison.
U.S. Rep. Wes Cooley (R-OR) Convicted in March 1997 of falsifying information about his military service in a voter information pamphlet. Fined and sentenced to two years probation.
U.S. Rep. Walter Tucker (D-CA) Convicted in December 1995 of extortion and tax evasion for accepting and demanding bribes when he was mayor of a Los Angeles suburb.
U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds (D-IL) Convicted in August 1995 on charges of criminal sexual assault, obstruction of justice, and solicitation of child pornography in a case stemming from his relationship with a 16-year-old campaign worker. Reynolds was sentenced to five years in prison. Convicted in 1997 of bank fraud, wire fraud, and perjury.
You are indeed in shameful company, Mr. Cunningham.