Special Report

Worst Corruption Scandal in Each State

Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

46. Virginia
> Scandal: Ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell convicted of taking bribes
> Year: 2014

One of the most well-liked Virginia governors of all time, Bob McDonnell, was indicted for accepting various bribes from a local businessman. Over the years, McDonnell and his wife had accepted $177,000 in different forms, from personal loans to gifts, including golf equipment, designer clothes, and vacations just to name a few. McDonnell also accumulated $27 million in legal bills and was initially slapped with a two-year prison sentence. The U.S. Supreme Court ended up overturning.

The top court’s reversal of the McDonnell decision prompted politicians guilty of bribery in three other states to fight their convictions in 2017.

Source: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons

47. Washington
> Scandal: Sen. Brock Adams sexual misconduct
> Year: 1992

Former Washington Senator Brock Adams, also referred to as “Golden Boy,” dropped his bid for re-election as senator in 1992 after the media revealed accusations of sexual harassment against him. The Seattle Times published an article claiming he had molested and sexually harassed eight women. Other allegations included those from former House aide Kari Tupper who said she was drugged and allegedly sexually assaulted by Adams five years prior, but the U.S. Attorney declined to prosecute because a lack of physical evidence.

Source: WKYT / YouTube

48. West Virginia
> Scandal: Social Security fraud
> Year: 2013

West Virginia’s Social Security office may have earned a bad reputation in 2013, but the corruption had been going on for several years prior. A two-year congressional study found Eric Conn, the third-highest paid Social Security lawyer in the nation, guilty of working with a judge to reverse benefit denials for hundreds of applicants. Because lawyers can collect 25% — and up to $6,000 — of benefits on disability cases, Conn, the judge, and several doctors made a massive profit from convincing the federal government to award benefits to about 1,800 people.

This act of fraud brought light to a greater problem. Congress directs too much attention to the quantity of disability cases judges are required to review annually and not enough to efforts to improve the disability benefit system itself. This, in part, has opened the door for fraud.

Source: Center for Neighborhood Technology / Wikimedia Commons

49. Wisconsin
> Scandal: Ex-Milwaukee mayor sex scandal
> Year: 2002

Instead of spending money on another election, four-term mayor of Milwaukee, John Norquist, opted to spend his campaign funds elsewhere — specifically on a $375,000 settlement with an aide who repeatedly felt pressured by Norquist to have sexual relations with him. Marilyn Figueroa, who accused Norquist of sexual harassment, said the former Milwaukee mayor threatened to withhold funds for community organizations she supported if she rejected Norquist’s advances.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

50. Wyoming
> Scandal: Teapot Dome scandal
> Year: 1927

The Teapot Dome scandal was considered to be the most serious scandal in the United States until the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s. The scandal gets its name from the Teapot Rock formation, located 25 miles north of Casper, Wyoming, on the Teapot Dome ranch. In the early 20th century, U.S. Navy administrators requested that federally owned land with known oil deposits be set aside by Congress as naval petroleum reserves. These reserves were not to be touched unless a national emergency was present. However, once President Warren Harding’s Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall gained control of the Teapot Dome oil reserve, he made private deals with two oilmen who bribed him to drill into the Dome and two other oil reserves nearby. Fall went down in history as the first officer in a presidential cabinet to go to jail for crimes committed while in office.