Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely: The Biggest Political Scandals in American History

The United States of America was built on a foundation of equality, liberty, and justice for all! It’s an honorable mission statement that should theoretically strike fear in the heart of all ill-intentioned American citizens. But, as we’ve seen throughout history, hard-line laws don’t always deter hard-line criminals.

Today on FilthyRich, we focus in on a very particular set of rulebreakers. Those that had their fingers crossed behind their back while swearing an oath to the American people. The politicians, civil servants, and power brokers that abused their influence to manipulate the system for power, money, or both. So, without further adieu, let’s dive in to the shadowy history of U.S. political scandals and explore the biggest political scandals in American history.

Bill Clinton v. Monica Lewinsky

Relative to the other scandals on this list, it’s tempting to classify the whole Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky ordeal as a low-impact scandal. That said, when news broke in ’98 of Clinton’s sexual relationship with the then 22-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky, it was as if the entire world stopped spinning.

Yes, Bill Clinton definitely had sexual relations with that woman. Not long after the now infamous sound bite, Clinton was charged with perjury, which led to his impeachment and a 21-day senate trial. Eventually, President Clinton was acquitted of all charges. His reputation however, has never fully recovered.


It’s safe to say that Richard Nixon didn’t set out to invent a new synonym for the word scandal. Unfortunately for him, that’s exactly what he did.


The Watergate scandal began in June of 1972, when five men were arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Washington D.C.’s Watergate office complex, where they were trying to set up wiretaps. There was cash found on the men. Cash that could be traced all the way to Nixon’s official Presidential campaign organization.

Naturally, an investigation followed. Said investigation dug up a treasure trove of incriminating tape recordings, evidence of Nixon’s direct attempts to cover up all post-break-in activities and proof of Nixon’s plan to use federal officials to impact the investigation.

Needless to say, the goofball Nixon was forced to resign and he did so in spectacular fashion.

Frontpage / Shutterstock

The Pentagon Papers

The Pentagon Papers refer to a top-secret Department of Defense study that compiled all of the known data surrounding the (then ongoing) Vietnam War. The study was completed at the request of the sitting Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, in 1967. The results were shocking. So shocking in fact, that military analyst Daniel Ellsberg took matters in to his own hands. Ellsberg photocopied the study and, like the hero he is, distributed it to The New York Times.

The leaked data confirmed much of the public’s growing concern over the Vietnam War and did some serious damage to the then sitting president, Richard Nixon’s bid at re-election. Ellsberg was charged, but the charges never stuck. And, we already know what happened to Nixon.

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