Special Report

Worst Corruption Scandal in Each State

John Harrington, Cheyenne Buckingham

Source: Pirie MacDonald / Wikimedia Commons

26. Montana
> Scandal: William A. Clark bribery scandal
> Year: 1900

The Wild West has had its share of corruption scandals, and this might be the most famous one in Montana. William A. Clark made a fortune in copper, but he really wanted to be a senator, and he bribed his way to win a Senate seat. On his first day in the Senate, his opponents filed a petition challenging the legitimacy of the election. That prompted a Senate investigation that discovered the stunning amount of bribes Clark dispensed to win the seat. In order to get votes, Clark paid off people’s debts and mortgages and brazenly handed out cash in envelopes to legislators. Before the Senate could vote on whether Clark should retain his seat, he resigned.

Source: twitter.com

27. Nebraska
> Scandal: Official charged with looting credit union
> Year: 1990

One of the more lurid scandals in Nebraska’s history involves a failed credit union in Omaha. Lawrence E. King was the flamboyant manager of the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union that failed in 1988, and he was convicted of embezzling $38 million. King was sent to prison in 1991 for his role in the failure of the institution. But the story got worse and what really shook the state for a while, were allegations that King and other prominent citizens from Nebraska were involved in a child sex ring that abused foster children. However, authorities launched an investigation that found those allegations to be a hoax.

Source: Coast-to-Coast / iStock

28. Nevada
> Scandal: FBI sting nets politicians on bribery charges
> Year: 1982

The FBI conducted an 18-month political corruption sting titled Operation Yobo that yielded bribery convictions of two state senators, two county commissioners, and a Reno City councilman. The latter’s conviction was eventually overturned. The operation was named after the FBI agent in charge, Joe Yablonsky.

Source: Jeff L / Flickr

29. New Hampshire
> Scandal: Phillips Exeter sex scandal
> Year: 2016

A scandal involving sexual misconduct over several decades at the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, became a Senate campaign issue in 2016. That’s because Tom Hassan, husband of Senate candidate and former New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, was headmaster at the school until he retired in 2015 and had worked at Phillips Exeter since 1989. The Boston Globe had published stories in the spring of 2016 that the school covered up sexual abuse by a male instructor of female students going back to the late 1970s.

Source: Tony Kurdzuk / The Star-Ledger

30. New Jersey
> Scandal: Organ trafficking case
> Year: 2009

For a state closely associated with political corruption and scandal, few episodes can top the organ trafficking case in 2009. An FBI sting snagged criminals dabbling in a black market for human organs. Officials believe it was the first case of its kind. The probe initially looked into money laundering and trafficking in kidneys, then expanded into a political corruption investigation leading to the arrests of three New Jersey mayors and five rabbis. The politicians and rabbis were not involved in organ trafficking.