Worst Corruption Scandal in Each State

March 27, 2018 by John Harrington

With a nearly daily barrage of stories questioning the ethics of the Trump administration, and a political campaign in 2016 that focused on the ethical lapses of Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton, it is no surprise that Americans’ faith in government is flagging.

Trust in institutions declined by 9 percentage points to 43% in 2018, according to the communications marketing firm Edelman Trust Barometer. That is the biggest trust decline ever measured for the United States by Edelman. Of the four components measured by Edelman — non-government entities, business, government, and media — government had the largest point decline, 14 points.

In its most recent survey in 2015 assessing government transparency and accountability, the Center for Public Integrity found that only three states scored higher than a D+, and 11 failed.

People are disillusioned with institutions because they believe they are tainted. Officials lacking integrity succumb to the temptations of money, power, and sex. Among the handmaidens of corruption are lying, financial failure, ethical transgressions, and judicial obstruction. Because of scandal and corruption, we are all too familiar with the terms bribery, sexual misconduct, entrapment, bagmen, fraud, and sleaze.

As investigators and the media try to determine the extent of the scandals involving the Trump administration, 24/7 Wall St. has taken the opportunity to review the worst scandal in each state.

Click to see the worst scandal in every state.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Source: Montgomery County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images

1. Alabama
> Scandal: Gov. Robert Bentley resigns
> Year: 2017

Facing impeachment for misusing campaign contributions, Robert Bentley was forced to resign as governor. Bentley pleaded guilty to using campaign contributions for personal gain and to failing to report campaign contributions. Bentley’s scandal also involved an affair with an adviser. A state House Judiciary report released just before his resignation included testimony from current and former state employees who said they were pressured to keep Bentley’s affair secret.

Source: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

2. Alaska
> Scandal: Sen. Ted Stevens corruption
> Year: 2008

Sen. Ted Stevens was hobbled by a corruption scandal in 2008 that probably cost him the election. Prosecutors had claimed Stevens failed to report the full value of renovations performed on a house he owned in Alaska. However, a federal judge in 2012 determined from a special investigation report that Justice Department prosecutors hid evidence that could have potentially helped Stevens defend himself. Stevens never got the chance to try to clear his name. He died in a plane crash in 2010.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

3. Arizona
> Scandal: Keating Five savings and loan scandal
> Year: 1989

Arizona senators John McCain and Dennis DeConcini were two of five senators involved in the Keating Five scandal. The incident involved legislators who intervened on behalf of the failed savings and loan Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. All of the senators had received political contributions from Lincoln executive Charles Keating. Eventually, Lincoln was seized by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. Lincoln’s bailout cost taxpayers $3 billion. A Senate Ethics Committee said DeConcini’s conduct was “inappropriate” but did not break any rules. The committee determined that McCain had exercised “poor judgment” when he met with regulators, but he was cleared of all charges.

Source: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

4. Arkansas
> Scandal: Whitewater real estate scandal
> Year: 1992

The scandal that followed the Clintons to the White House originated in their business dealings with a real estate company and a savings and loan. In 1978, then-Arkansas Attorney General Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary partnered with James and Susan McDougal to form the Whitewater Development Corp. to build vacation homes. The alleged improprieties stemmed from loans on land deals from James McDougal’s savings and loan Madison Guaranty. Questions about speculative land deals drew the interest of federal investigators in 1984. Investigations into alleged misconduct involving Whitewater and Madison Guaranty would continue throughout Clinton’s presidency.

Source: Pool / Getty Images

5. California
> Scandal: Salary scandal in town of Bell
> Year: 2010

City officials bilked the blue-collar town of Bell, California, out of $5.5 million in a scandal that broke in 2010. Robert Rizzo, the former city manager, received a 12-year prison sentence and was ordered to make restitution of $8.8 million. He pleaded no contest to 69 charges of fraud and misappropriation of public funds. Rizzo had drawn a salary of $800,000 in a city of about 40,000 where one-fourth of the residents live below the federal poverty level. Rizzo also was guilty of income tax evasion.

Source: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

6. Colorado
> Scandal: Gary Hart infidelity
> Year: 1987

Gary Hart was considered a strong presidential candidate in 1988. However, allegations of infidelity dogged his campaign. Matters came to a head in May 1987, when The Washington Post published details about a tryst between Hart and a woman in Washington, D.C., who was not Hart’s wife. The report followed questions about Hart’s alleged relationship with model Donna Rice. The revelations forced Hart to publicly withdraw from the race.

Source: Bob Falcetti / Getty Images

7. Connecticut
> Scandal: Ex-governor’s corruption
> Year: 2004

Former Gov. John Rowland was released from federal custody earlier this year after serving 14 months of a 30-month term. He had been found guilty of campaign fraud, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. Rowland was imprisoned on charges that he tried to conceal his role from political campaign overseers as a paid political consultant for several congressional campaigns. Rowland had been the youngest governor ever in Connecticut, and had won three terms before he resigned in 2004.

Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

8. Delaware
> Scandal: Gov. Ruth Ann Minner accused of taking improper gifts
> Year: 2006

Gov. Ruth Ann Minner was accused of taking improper gifts from a lobbyist in 2007. The governor took a private flight to Canada for a government leadership conference with a liquor company executive who failed to register as a lobbyist. Minner did not report the flight in a disclosure filing and said later her cost of the flight did not top the $250 threshold for financial disclosure for state officials. The liquor company executive, Christopher Tigani, eventually pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations.

Source: IPGGutenbergUKLtd / iStock

9. Florida
> Scandal: Miami cops swipe cocaine
> Year: 1985

Few scandals undermined the public’s faith in law enforcement more than when police officers pocketed drugs instead of turning them over for evidence. In the summer of 1985, police supposedly raided a boat on the Miami River that was offloading cocaine reportedly worth $12 million. The drugs went missing, and an investigation led to a labyrinth of crooked cops who shook down drug dealers and took their money and drugs. Eventually 24 police officers were convicted.

Source: Kent D. Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

10. Georgia
> Scandal: Cheating scandal involving principals and teachers
> Year: 2011

A wide-ranging test-cheating scandal in Atlanta undercut the integrity of educators. In 2011, about 180 teachers and principals in the Atlanta public school system cheated to boost student scores on standardized tests. It was one of the biggest cheating scandals involving educators in the nation’s history. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation also uncovered a conspiracy to intimidate whistle-blowers and conceal misdoing. Education observers cited the scandal as an example of politicians placing too much emphasis on students performing well on standardized tests.

Source: KITV / YouTube

11. Hawaii
> Scandal: Hawaii spy scandal
> Year: 2013

Maj. Seivirak Inson, a U.S. Army intelligence officer stationed in Honolulu, was found guilty of illegally possessing and passing classified national defense information. Military prosecutors said Inson tried to pass along secrets about the Cambodian military gathered by the U.S. to people connected with the Cambodian government between 2009 and 2012. A military jury sentenced Inson to 10 years in prison.

Source: inlander.com

12. Idaho
> Scandal: State Rep. Phil Hart ducks tax payment
> Year: 2013

Like a lot of people, Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart didn’t like to pay taxes. He challenged the constitutionality of federal taxes by refusing to pay them, beginning in 1996. Eventually he owed more than $600,000 in state and federal taxes. The Republican legislator’s defiance didn’t stop there. Hart also took timber from land owned by the state to build a home because he believed he was entitled to it as a citizen. After losing his challenge on the constitutionality of federal taxation, the feds eventually sold the property to pay for taxes he owed the government. Hart was thwarted in his bid for a fifth term when he lost a primary in 2012.

Source: Frank Polich / Getty Images

13. Illinois
> Scandal: Ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich guilty of misusing powers
> Year: 2011

Rod Blagojevich was found guilty of misusing his powers as governor of Illinois, most famously for trying to sell the Senate seat left vacant after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. Blagojevich sought to have his 14-year prison sentence reduced in 2016. However, prosecutors did not relent, saying he had not shown remorse for his actions. Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison term until 2024.

Source: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons

14. Indiana
> Scandal: Indiana politician rape/murder scandal
> Year: 1925

Indiana powerbroker D.C. Stephenson was charged with rape and murder in a sensational case in 1925. Stephenson was hoping Gov. Ed Jackson, whom he had helped elect, would grant him a pardon after he was convicted of second-degree murder of a woman who worked for the governor. When Stephenson didn’t get the pardon, he went public with his relationships with Jackson and other politicians. This led to the downfall of Jackson as well as Indianapolis Mayor John Duvall.

Source: Booking Photo / wcfcourier.com

15. Iowa
> Scandal: Embezzlement scandal
> Year: 2013

Russell Wasendorf, the former chief executive of Peregrine Financial Group in Cedar Falls, received a 50-year jail term for embezzling $215 million from 13,000 clients. The 50-year term was the maximum allowed under the law. Wasendorf tried to commit suicide the previous July. In his suicide note, he confessed to using client funds to keep his firm solvent, and he also blamed regulators for causing his business to fail.

Source: andrearamseyforcongress.com

16. Kansas
> Scandal: Congressional candidate sex harassment charge
> Year: 2017

In the era of the #MeToo movement, a female politician was also recently accused of sexual harassment. Kansas congressional hopeful Andrea Ramsey was forced to withdraw her candidacy in late 2017 over allegations of sexual harassment. The Kansas City Star reported about the accusations brought against Ramsey in a lawsuit from 2005. The lawsuit accuses Ramsey, then an executive at drug-testing company LabOne, of sexually harassing a male employee who had rebuffed her advances.

Source: Mike Weaver

17. Kentucky
> Scandal: BOPTROT FBI sting
> Year: 1990

BOPTROT is the unwieldy name for an FBI sting in Kentucky. The operation targeted legislators for taking bribes from the operators of struggling harness tracks who were trying to compete against thoroughbred racetracks. The BOP in BOPTROT stands for the Business Organizations and Professions Committees in both houses of the Kentucky General Assembly that deal with horse-racing bills. TROT refers to the trots, another name for harness racing. What shocked people about this scandal was that legislators could be bought for bribes as low as $400.

Source: State of Louisiana / Wikimedia Commons

18. Louisiana
> Scandal: Louisiana officials bribery case
> Year: 1939

Louisiana has a colorful history of corruption, and the scandal involving Gov. Richard Leche is at the top of the list. Leche won the gubernatorial race in 1936 and tried to build on the legacy of charismatic governor and senator Huey Long by helping the poor, building infrastructure, and constructing hospitals. But he became embroiled in a scandal that ensnared hundreds of politicians and businessmen. Leche resigned and was convicted of taking kickbacks. He served five years in federal prison and was pardoned by President Harry Truman.

Source: Yudi Mulyadi / YouTube

19. Maine
> Scandal: Prostitution scandal
> Year: 2012

Kennebunkport is famous for housing the Bush family compound. But it also became infamous in 2012 for a scandal involving a former mayor and a former high school hockey coach and nearly two dozen other men accused of paying for prostitutes at a Zumba dance studio. Alleged madam Alexis Wright, who ran the studio, was arraigned on 109 counts of prostitution and tax evasion, among other charges.

Source: MDDeptPublicSafety / YouTube

20. Maryland
> Scandal: Maryland prison contraband conspiracy
> Year: 2016

Maryland is another state infamous for corruption and scandal. Marylander Spiro Agnew was forced to resign in disgrace in 1973 as vice president of the United States over charges he was involved in graft while he holding office in Maryland. In another more recent, and perhaps more disturbing, scandal, federal authorities indicted 80 people in an alleged conspiracy to sneak contraband into Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover. Among those indicted were corrections officers and inmates, who were charged with trying to smuggle heroin, cocaine, cellphones, and other forbidden items into the facility.

Source: Joe Spurr / Flickr

21. Massachusetts
> Scandal: Drug lab scandal
> Year: 2012

More than 21,000 drug convictions in Massachusetts were tossed out because of evidence tainted by a chemist. Annie Dookhan worked at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory in Boston and was accused of falsifying test results in 2012. She was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice, perjury, and tampering evidence.

Source: Photo by Mark Wilson / Getty Images

22. Michigan
> Scandal: Flint water crisis
> Year: 2014

The Flint water crisis broke in April 2014 and exposed leadership incompetence from the governor’s office to the city’s managers as well as the supervisors at agencies tasked to oversee the city’s drinking water. The crisis began when financially strapped Flint switched its water source to the Flint River from Detroit to save money. In doing so, the city failed to include anti-corrosives to the water, which resulted in a jump in the amount of lead in the water to very high and dangerous levels. Thousands of Flint residents were exposed. A deluge of lawsuits and criminal charges followed after the crisis developed. Researchers from Kansas University and West Virginia University who studied the water crisis found a drop in pregnancies and a surge in fetal deaths among Flint women.

Source: Courtesy of Petters Group Worldwide

23. Minnesota
> Scandal: Executive Tom Petters in Ponzi scheme
> Year: 2009

Hedge-fund honcho Tom Petters, whose personal worth was once valued at $1 billion, appeared to be a Minnesota boy made good. Apparently, it was too good. Petters was found guilty of mail and wire fraud for operating a $3.7 billion Ponzi scheme that victimized more than 250 people. He is serving a 50-year prison term, the longest ever imposed in a financial fraud case in Minnesota.

Source: Getty Images / Stuart Ramson

24. Mississippi
> Scandal: Worldcom accounting scandal
> Year: 2002

The accounting scandal at telecommunications company WorldCom was one the largest in American corporate history when it was disclosed in 2002, and it led to the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history. The company, at one time the nation’s second-largest long-distance phone company, inflated assets by as much as $11 billion. Worldcom’s implosion cost 30,000 people their jobs and investors $180 billion. Bernard Ebbers, the former WorldCom chief executive officer, got a 25-year sentence for conspiracy and filing false documents. WorldCom was one of several high-profile corporate corruption cases of the last 25 years, along with Enron, Tyco, and Adelphia.

Source: Craig Barritt / Getty Images

25. Missouri
> Scandal: Gov. Eric Greitens blackmail scandal
> Year: 2018

The ongoing scandal involving Gov. Eric Greitens, who was considered one of the rising stars in the Republican Party, is among the sleaziest in recent memory. Last month, Missouri’s governor was indicted on a felony charge of invasion of privacy. Greitens is accused of surreptitiously taking nude photos of a woman with whom he was having an affair and of threatening to publicly reveal the photos to try and keep her silent. On March 26, a judge rejected a bid by Greitens’ legal team for a trial by judge and not jury in the invasion of privacy case.

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.

Source: Kris Connor / Getty Images

31. New Mexico
> Scandal: Gov. Richardson pay for play claims
> Year: 2008

Gov. Bill Richardson was a rising star in the Democratic Party. His bid for the presidency in 2008 failed, but the eventual victor, Barack Obama, wanted Richardson to be his secretary of commerce. But Richardson had to withdraw his nomination because of a federal grand jury probe into allegations of pay-to-play practices in his administration. The investigation focused on a California company that had contributed to Richardson’s political action committees and the company had been awarded contracts to help fund construction of New Mexico’s highways. The investigation by the Department of Justice concluded without indictments.

Source: Hiroko Masuike / Getty Images

32. New York
> Scandal: Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme
> Year: 2008

Bernie Madoff was the mastermind of the greatest Ponzi scheme of all time. The scam claimed 24,000 victims, among them Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon. Madoff claimed his investors lost $50 billion. In 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 felony counts, including money laundering and perjury, and he was sentenced to 150 years in prison. A British veteran of the war in Afghanistan committed suicide when he found out his life savings were lost because he had invested with Madoff. Madoff’s family suffered, and his two sons have died since he went to prison. In November, the federal government said it would begin paying out $772.5 million to Madoff victims. The money comes from a $4 billion fund established to pay back Madoff’s former clients.

Source: Shaun Heasley / Getty Images

33. North Carolina
> Scandal: John Edwards scandal
> Year: 2008

John Edwards, the son of a textile worker, seemed to have the goods as a presidential candidate in 2008. He was telegenic and articulate, and his “Two Americas” speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 about the economic bifurcation of American society, put him on the national stage. But his bid to become president was scuttled when the National Enquirer revealed that he had an affair with Rielle Hunter, a documentary filmmaker for his campaign. Edwards repeatedly lied about his relationship with Hunter until he finally confessed to the affair during an interview with ABC News. What made the scandal worse was Edwards’ wife was dying of cancer at the time of the affair. Edwards was later indicted on charges he used campaign funds to hide the affair from the public. He was found not guilty on one charge and the judge declared a mistrial on five other charges.

Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress / Wikimedia Commons

34. North Dakota
> Scandal: Gov. William Langer corruption
> Year: 1934

North Dakota Gov. William Langer became famous in 1934 for standing up to the federal government, which had convicted him on charges of corruption. The corruption charges stemmed from reports that the Republican governor had required state employees to donate money to his party. In defiance of the U.S. government, Langer refused to step down, declared North Dakota independent, and barricaded himself in the governor’s mansion. Sympathetic farmers marched on the state capital of Bismarck in support of him. Langer was eventually exonerated. Nicknamed “Wild Bill,” Langer remained popular in North Dakota and was re-elected governor. Later he was elected to the U.S. Senate and served there until his death in 1959.

Source: Summit County Jail / Getty Images

35. Ohio
> Scandal: Ex-Rep. Jim Traficant bribery conviction
> Year: 2002

Jim Traficant was convicted on 10 charges of bribery, racketeering, and tax evasion in 2002. The House of Representatives voted to expel him 420-1. The colorful Traficant was known for his over-the-top statements, hairpieces, and his choice of dress suits. Traficant, who played college football at the University of Pittsburgh with NFL great Mike Ditka, liked to use references to the television show “Star Trek” to make a point about legislation in Congress. He was released from prison in 2009 and attempted a political comeback, but it failed. He died in 2014 following an accident on his farm.

Source: tobynabors / iStock

36. Oklahoma
> Scandal: County commissioners guilty in kickback scandal
> Year: 1981

A massive kickback scandal netted about 120 county commissioners in 1981 and at the time was called the biggest kickback scheme in U.S. history. The corruption in deals on gravel and bogus purchases of timber that were never delivered. The FBI got several lumber suppliers to tape meetings with county commissioners to build a case against them. Most of the people charged in the kickback scheme pled guilty to mail fraud and obstructing the Internal Revenue Service.

Source: Photo by Win McNamee / Getty Images

37. Oregon
> Scandal: Sen. Bob Packwood sexual harassment scandal
> Year: 1995

Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood made a name for himself as a champion of abortion rights. In fact, the Republican led a filibuster against his own party’s bill equating abortion to murder. He also made it a point to appoint women to his staff. But there was another side to Packwood regarding women. He was a sexual harasser from the time he became a senator in 1969. By the early 1990s, more women were going public with their claims that Packwood had harassed them. In 1995, the sexual harassment scandal forced the five-term senator to resign or face the possibility of being expelled from the Senate.

Source: Patrick Smith / Getty Images

38. Pennsylvania
> Scandal: Sandusky scandal at Penn State
> Year: 2011

The scandal involving Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, in which the coach molested young boys for decades, sent shockwaves across the nation. It led to the downfall in November 2011 of university president Graham Spanier and the firing of Coach Joe Paterno, the long-time coach of the Nittany Lions and the symbol of rectitude in college sports. Paterno would pass away two months later. In 2012, Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts of child sex abuse and was sentenced for a term of 30 to 60 years.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

39. Rhode Island
> Scandal: Ex-Gov. Edward DiPrete imprisoned for bribery
> Year: 1998

Rhode Island is a state with a legacy of politicians tainted by corruption, including colorful characters like the twice-convicted former Providence Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr. One of its more regrettable episodes involved its governor. Edward DiPrete became the first Rhode Island governor to serve jail time after pleading guilty to multiple charges of corruption in 1998. DiPrete pled guilty to 18 counts of racketeering, extortion, and bribery and served just over 11 months in prison. Before the scandal, DiPrete had served three two-year terms as governor, ending in 1991.

Source: FBI surveillance video / thestate.com

40. South Carolina
> Scandal: Operation Lost Trust
> Year: 1990

Operation Lost Trust was a major political corruption investigation conducted by the FBI in South Carolina. After a more than year-long investigation, 27 people were convicted or found guilty of corruption, among them legislators from the state House Ethics Committee and lobbyists. During the trials, lawmakers were seen on surveillance tapes taking money to support a gambling bill. The money had been supplied by a lobbyist who had been turned by the FBI. After the sting, South Carolina passed stricter ethics rules for its legislators.

Source: Nicole Westerhuis / Facebook

41. South Dakota
> Scandal: GEAR-UP program scandal
> Year: 2015

A scandal in South Dakota apparently led to the deaths of six people in one family, including the leading figure in the scandal. The episode centered around GEAR-UP, a federally funded program intended to inform lower-income students about higher education choices. Scott Westerhuis and his wife were business managers at Mid-Central Educational Cooperative, which had financial control of the GEAR-UP program. Westerhuis, who used third-party organizations to access GEAR-UP’s bank account to pay Mid-Central employees, eventually looted $1.4 million from the organization. The state Department of Education canceled Mid-Central’s contract with GEAR-UP. Apparently facing financial pressure, Westerhuis shot and killed his family, burned his house down, and then committed suicide.

Source: Court records

42. Tennessee
> Scandal: Operation Tennessee Waltz
> Year: 2005

The FBI launched an investigation into claims of corruption in Tennessee in 2002. Operation Tennessee Waltz led to the arrest of five former lawmakers who collected money in exchange for backing legislation that would benefit a recycling company called E-Cycle Management. E-Cycle, though, was a bogus company set up by the FBI that recorded hours of video of lawmakers getting plied with liquor and receiving cash from undercover agents. The operation led to stricter reporting requirements for lobbyists and stringent disclosure standards for lawmakers about their sources of income.

Source: Dave Einsel / Getty Images

43. Texas
> Scandal: Enron scandal leads to its dissolution
> Year: 2001

Enron, once the sixth-largest energy company in the world, collapsed in late 2001 because of years of accounting fraud that aimed to conceal debts and losses and inflated the company’s revenue. The debacle made Enron a synonym for corporate malfeasance and corruption. Most of the company’s executives were tried for fraud after it was revealed that Enron’s earnings had been overstated by almost $600 million. What was galling to the public was that Enron executives, apparently sensing the company’s demise, cashed out of Enron stock before the company’s collapse. Lower-level employees at Enron could not do so because of 401(k) restrictions, and many lost their savings. The scandal also claimed in 2002 long-practicing accounting firm Arthur Andersen, which had been convicted of shredding documents related to former client Enron.

Source: cityweekly.net

44. Utah
> Scandal: Attorney General in bribery scheme
> Year: 2017

Former Attorney General John Swallow was charged with eight felony counts in addition to a misdemeanor. The charges ranged from accepting and requesting bribes to obstructing justice in the courtroom. At the time the charges shook the state, as another former AG, Mark Shurtleff, was charged with similar crimes. Charges against Shurtleff were dropped in 2016. As for Swallow, after four years, he was acquitted of all charges. While the case may have officially closed last year, Swallow is actively seeking reimbursement. As of Feb. 28, Swallow has sued the state in attempt to receive $1.6 million worth of legal fees he used in his defense, most of which he had to borrow from other attorneys.

Source: Hilary Niles / VTDigger

45. Vermont
> Scandal: EB-5 investment for visa program scandal
> Year: 2017

The EB-5 regional center in Vermont is no longer in existence. Last year, the federal government shut down the program — created to stimulate the economy through investment by immigrant entrepreneurs who could eventually get green cards — after two developers in the state were accused of committing fraud. Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger misused $200 million of the $350 million raised from immigrant investors for several projects through the visa program. This mass amount of money was supposed to fund three different projects. By 2016, the 400 investors in the various unfinished projects had yet to receive their respective green cards.

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.

Detailed Findings & Methodology

American history has been rife with tales of corruption since the nation’s inception. While some scandals were transitory, others, such as Watergate, left indelible scars on the nation’s psyche.

Most of the events tied to corruption involve politicians from every level of government. Some have been brazen, like Montana’s copper mogul William A. Clark, who shamelessly gave envelopes stuffed with cash to voters to literally buy his Senate seat. Other episodes border on the comical, like North Dakota Gov. William Langer, who, after he was charged with corruption by the federal government, barricaded himself in the governor’s mansion.

Some scandals have scuttled the presidential ambitions of former senators such as Gary Hart of Colorado and John Edwards of North Carolina. Other politicians, such as ex-governors John Rowland of Connecticut and Edward DiPrete of Rhode Island, paid the price for their transgressions by serving jail time.

Not all tales of corruption involve high-profile officials. City managers bilked the blue-collar town of Bell, California, out of $5.5 million. Former city manager Robert Rizzo had been drawing a salary of $800,000 in a city of about 40,000 where one-fourth of the residents were living below the poverty line.

Corruption has undermined the confidence in our education system, too. One example is the test-cheating scandal in Georgia, in which dozens of teachers and administrators boosted test scores of students.

Another is the shocking episode involving former Penn State University football coach Jerry Sandusky that led to the demise of the leaders of that institution, including highly regarded head football coach Joe Paterno.

A wide-ranging scandal involving Flint’s tainted water supply showed incompetence at every level of government, from the governor’s office to those tasked with supervising the Michigan city’s water supply.

The corporate world has also been rocked scandal, such as the accounting debacles of the telecom corporation Worldcom, and the energy company Enron. In those cases, many investors lost their life savings.

Some states have reputations for corruption, such as New Jersey, Louisiana, and Maryland. However, corruption has tainted every state, and brought into question the integrity of the institutions Americans are supposed to trust.

24/7 Wall St. examined archival resources, media sources, and websites to determine the worst scandal in every state. We looked at the nature of the scandal and examined its consequences for a particular state as well as if the corruption episode had implications beyond that state’s borders. In many cases, the results of the disclosure of the scandal led to reforms in ethics standards for politicians and lobbyists in several states.