As Americans, we go to the voting booth every couple of years to vote for people we believe to have our best interests at heart and those who will do the most good for the country. Even though we know that isn’t always the case, we do it anyway.
Unfortunately, we are let down too many times. It’s usually because the politician fails to push for the changes they promised they would make, but sometimes it’s much worse than that. Sometimes, the politicians we vote for are genuinely dishonest people who break the public’s trust. Here are 10 recent politicians who broke their voter’s hearts because of their criminal misdeeds.
Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham – (R-CA)
Former congressional representative Duke Cunningham was accused of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud, and one count of tax evasion. The former congressman collected $2.4 million in bribes, including a yacht and a Rolls Royce.
He pled guilty to the charges on Nov. 28, 2005. Cunningham was sentenced to 8 years and 4 months in prison. Cunningham resigned from office following his guilty plea. He completed his sentence on June 4, 2013.
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. – (D-IL)
Jackson, son of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, pled guilty to charges of fraud, conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, making false statements and criminal forfeiture in February 2013.
The plea came after the Justice Department filed charges earlier that month alleging that Jackson had misused nearly $750,000 in campaign funds to pay for his lavish lifestyle. Jackson had taken a medical leave of absence in June 2012 and resigned from office in November of the same year citing his health problem. At the time of his resignation, he acknowledged that the investigation into his finances played a role as well.
Jackson was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison in August 2013. Jackson’s wife was also convicted and sentence to 12 months in prison, though their sentences were staggered to allow one parent to be with their children during the time the other parent would be in prison. Jackson began serving his sentence in October 2013.
Rep. Tom DeLay – (R-TX)
Tom Delay was the king of the hill for a time. The former Republican House majority leader was controversial and well known throughout the country. After a long run in politics, DeLay’s end came quickly in 2005.
DeLay was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering in 2005. The charges came with accusations that the congressman had played a role in attempting to influence Texas election in 2002 via laundered money. Shortly after the indictment, DeLay stepped down from his position as Majority Leader. DeLay eventually resigned from Congress in 2006.
Representative DeLay was convicted of money laundering and conspiring to commit money laundering in 2010. DeLay continued to fight his conviction and it was ultimately overturned by a Texas appellate court in 2013. DeLay was the first congressional leader to be indicted while holding office.
Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-LA)
Former congressman William Jefferson was charged with 16 felony counts relating to corruption, including money laundering, racketeering, conspiracy and bribery.
The FBI suspected that Jefferson was on the take and raided his congressional offices in May 2006. Despite the raid and the whirlwind of media coverage that followed, Jefferson was reelected later that same year.
Jefferson was indicted on the 16 charges by a federal grand jury in June 2007. His political career ended when he lost a re-election bid in 2008.
In August 2009, Jefferson was convicted on 11 of the 16 counts he was facing and sentenced to 13 years in prison. After being released on bail during his appeal attempts, Jefferson surrendered himself to prison officials to begin serving his sentence in May 2012. He is currently incarcerated and scheduled for release in August 2023.
Sen. Ted Stevens – (R- AK)
Ted Stevens was the longest serving Republican Senator in the history of the United States. In 2008, Stevens was convicted by a jury for failing to report $250,000 in gifts relating the renovation of his home in Alaska. Stevens remained steadfast in claiming his innocence.
Ultimately, his conviction overturned when the Justice Department found that the prosecution might have knowingly allowed the star witness against Stevens to perjure himself on the stand. It was too late for Stevens political career to be saved though as he lost his 2008 reelection bid.
Former Senator Stevens died in a plane crash in 2010.
Sen. Larry Craig – (R-ID)
Former Idaho Senator Larry Craig was arrested at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport after being accused of soliciting sex from an undercover officer in the bathroom on June 11, 2007. At the time, Craig claimed it was a misunderstanding and that he was innocent.
The Senator eventually pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct on August 1, 2007. The incident resulted in Craig being removed as a liaison to the Senate for Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign. After briefly admitting guilt and indicating he would resign from his position as Senator, Craig attempted to have his guilty plea overturned. The attempt was denied.
Craig never did resign from the Senate. Instead, he served his full term and opted not to run for reelection in 2008.
Rep. Frank Ballance – (D-NC)
Ballance, the North Carolina congressman, was indicted on numerous charges of conspiring to defraud taxpayers in September 2004. The indictment came less than three months after Ballance resigned from Congress citing health concerns.
Balance was accused of stealing more than $2 million in state funds to use on himself, his family and his church. He pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering in November 2004. Ballance was sentenced to four years in prison and two years of supervised release. He was released from prison in June 2009.
Rep. Rick Renzi – (R-AZ)
Congressman Renzi was originally indicted on a number of federal charges in February 2008. Charges included conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, extortion and insurance fraud. More than five years later, on June 12, 2013, a jury convicted Renzi on 17 of 32 of the counts he faced.
Renzi was sentence to three years in prison. The former congressman appealed the conviction, but the jury’s verdict was upheld.
Rep. Henry “Trey” Radel – (R-FL)
The former congressman from Florida was arrested in Washington, D.C. after he attempted to purchase 3.5 grams of cocaine from an undercover officer.
Radel pled guilty to a misdemeanor count of possession of cocaine in November 2013. He was sentenced to one year of supervised probation. That same month, he announced he was taking a leave of absence from his position in Congress. Radel ultimately resigned from Congress in January 2014.
He completed all terms of his probation in October 2014. Because of successfully completing his probation, his criminal record has been expunged.
Rep. Vito Fossella – (R-NY)
The New York congressional representative was arrested in May 2008 for drunk driving in Alexandria, Va. He was convicted of the crime and served five days in jail.
The real story of Fossella’s arrest is that it was the first in a series of events that ultimately led to the end of his political career as days later it was revealed that he had a child from an extra-marital affair.
Do you know what’s on your record? While you’re probably aware of any crimes that you’ve committed in the past, you might be curious about what’s actually on your record―or what a potential employer or landlord is able to see. Find out here.