Don’t Vote For Guys Like This: The 8 Most Scandalous Congressmen Ever

scandalous congressmen

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Mid-term elections are almost upon us, and with that comes a dash of hope… and a whole lot of sneering contempt for the political circus our government has turned into. But while you’re deciding between Banker A and Corporate Lawyer B in the voting booth, you might want to take a moment to realize that no matter how bad they may seem, they probably won’t be as terrible as any of the following politicians.

Yes, these are the worst of the worst in Congress’ long and often ridiculous history. They brought great shame to themselves, their office and to the country as a whole. Whether it was through corruption, degeneracy or, in at least one case, murder, they proved that the scandal market isn’t cornered by Presidents and their misadventures with audio tape, cigars and stained dresses. No, they proved that Congress is just as sleazy as the rest of them, and that these 8 Congressman were the sleaziest, most scandalous of them all.

Preston Brooks (Democrat, South Carolina, 1853-57)

Remembered For: Beating Senator Charles Sumner with a cane, being a massive racist who loved slavery.

When I say “beating with a cane,” I don’t mean a couple of love taps. No, I mean he beat the dude down until he was unconscious. And all the while, a couple of his bros stood guard and held off the rest of the Senate at gunpoint. Goddamn. That’s some gangsta ass shit, especially for 1856.

Of course, the whole thing happened because of – what else? – slavery. Our man Brooks here, in addition to being the Mike Tyson of the cane game, was so into owning black dudes that he couldn’t stand it when Senator Sumner got up and told people “Yo, this slavery thing is bullshit.” (May or may not be an exact quote.) The cane came out, Senator Sumner went down for the count, and Preston Brooks cemented his place as one of the vilest assholes to ever set foot in the halls of Congress, which, as we can all attest, is one hell of an accomplishment.

Michael Myers (Democrat, Pennsylvania, 1976-1980)

Remembered For: Bribery, beating up a waiter, douchebaggery, helping inspire American Hustle

His Halloween name aside, Michael Myers was pretty much the stereotype of the Philly asshole. He was a former longshoreman who somehow made it to Congress, where he predictably made a horse’s ass out of himself for four years before Congress finally kicked him out.

It was the first time they had tossed anyone since 1861, and when you’re suffering the same fate as bros kicked out for treason, you know you fucked up. It was mostly a comedy of idiocy for Myers. In 1979, he got in a brawl with a local waiter because the waiter wasn’t being respectful enough of Congress. I’m sure that helped. But it was a year later that Myers really made his mark, getting caught up in the infamous Abscam scandal (for details, just watch American Hustle) in which he was busted for taking bribes from “Arabs.” The best part, though, was that Myers was busted on tape telling one of the “Arabs” that “Money talks, and bullshit walks.” Forget Congress, Myers should have been named poet laureate.

Duke Cunningham (Republican, California, 1991-2005)

Remembered For: Bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, tax evasion

Look, anytime you end up with an entire scandal named after you, you probably belong on a list like this. And that’s exactly what happened with Duke Cunningham and “the Cunningham Scandal.”

Ol’ Duke manages to hang with the heavyweights here just on sheer volume. Sure, he never beat a dude with a cane or anything as flashy as that, but when it all caught up to him, he had taken over $2 million in bribes and done enough to land in prison for eight years. Sure, it probably wasn’t Federal Pound Me In The Ass Prison, but as anyone who has seen Office Space will tell you, white collar jail ain’t no joke. Then again, I’m guessing a rich, old white dude named Duke would be the godfather of a place like that. Don’t mess with Duke and his bitches. But don’t keep electing him to Congress either. That’s all I’m saying.

James Traficant (Democrat, Ohio, 1985-2002)

Remembered For: Bribery, tax evasion, racketeering, forcing a dead squirrel to impersonate his hair

By the time James Traficant entered the national spotlight, he had racked up 10 felony charges and when Congress voted to kick his ass out of office by a vote of 420-1, it was the first time since Michael Myers in 1980 that a sitting Congressman had gotten the boot.

But really, aside from the widespread corruption – I mean, come on, racketeering? There’s gangsta and then there’s gangster, and racketeering is gangster as hell. – what everyone will remember Traficant for is being almost a caricature of the sleazy used-car salesman type of politician. He had the shitty wardrobe, the flashy habits of a two-bit mobster, and of course, that dead thing he used for a toupee. That poor, poor squirrel had a family, man.

But here’s what really sums James Traficant up – in addition to his many crimes, he was also busted for forcing his aides to perform chores around his farm and on his houseboat. I mean, what kind of an asshole does that? Say what you will about taking bribes, but that’s nowhere near as distasteful as forcing some poor unpaid intern to clean the toilets on the SS Douchebag following a party with drunken donors. Hangover poop is something not even the dudes in Gitmo should ever have to deal with.

Rick Renzi (Republican, Arizona, 2003-09)

Remembered For: Bribery, extortion, insurance fraud, money laundering, racketeering

Goddamn, what a rap sheet! Rick Renzi comes across less like a Congressman and more like one of the bandits in Blazing Saddles stating his case for why he should be allowed to ride on Rock Ridge. I mean, this is a dude who basically opened up the wiki page for “White Collar Crime” and proudly announced “I’ma do all that shit!”

In the end, “all that shit” amounted to 17 convictions on 32 separate charges and three years in prison. Seriously, Renzi was involved in everything from shady land deals to raiding his own family business for funds.

But that’s not all. Oh no. Renzi’s case was eventually tangled up in the “Dismissal of U.S. Attorneys” controversy, which was actually a scandal on the executive level involving members of President George W. Bush’s team. Basically, they were purging attorneys for political reasons, and one of the attorneys targeted just happened to be the dude investigating their boy Rick Renzi. If you’re gonna get into the scandal game, go big or go home, I guess.

William J. Jefferson (Democrat, Louisiana, 1991-2009)

Remembered For: Bribery

That lonesome “bribery” might seem out of place amidst the gangsters on this list, but nobody touched William Jefferson when it came to the bribery game. The dude took so many bribes from so many people that by the time the authoritahs caught up with him, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison, which is the longest sentence ever – ever! – given to a member of Congress. Yeah, that’ll get you here.

The most ridiculous story involved Jefferson getting busted in his own home with $90,000 in cash stuffed in his freezer in 2005. Or maybe it was during Hurricane Katrina that same year, when he used a National Guard truck to evacuate his home and save all his belongings while everyone else in town was losing everything with no one around to help. Or maybe it was that, despite all of that, the people of Jefferson’s district actually reelected him a year later. I mean, what the fuck? This dude was like a cartoon character, a living embodiment of every rotten cliché people believe about politicians.

Daniel Sickles (Democrat, New York, 1857-61, 1893-95)

Remembered For: Killing a dude, rampant whoring
In 1859, Daniel Sickles shot and killed the district attorney for Washington DC because he thought the dude was boning his wife. Oh, and that attorney was named Philp Barton Key II, the son of Francis Scott Key, AKA the dude who wrote the Star Spangled Banner. Oh, and he did it right across the street from the White House. Oh, and he was acquitted by being the first dude to ever successfully argue temporary insanity in the history of the United States. Well, goddamn.
Amazingly, Sickles kept right on truckin’ in Congress, and later even managed to win an entirely different seat in Congress almost 40 years later. This guy is probably OJ Simpson’s hero.

But even before he straight up killed a dude, Sickles was infamous for his degeneracy. He was censured by the New York State assembly for bringing a prostitute into its chambers and once introduced a whore to the Queen of England. Forget OJ, this dude is probably Bill Clinton’s hero.

Robert Potter (Independent, North Carolina, 1829-31)

Remembered For: Castrating dudes, cheating at cards

Look, castration pretty much trumps anything else a dude can do to another dude. That’s just a rule I have.
Robert Potter probably thought he had a good reason. He suspected two dudes of boning down with his wife, and so he, uh, took away their bones. He then resigned from Congress because, well, I guess that’s just what you do after chopping off the junk of some bros.

He then was elected to the North Carolina state legislature, probably on a get tough on adultery platform, until he was thrown out a year later for cheating at cards and for pulling out a gun when some dudes confronted him for being a dirty cheat. Hell, at least he didn’t whip out his ball slicer.
It’s pretty fucked up that he was condemned more for cheating at cards than for cutting the balls off a couple of bros, but that’s just how they rolled back in the day, I guess. But for our purposes, the card cheating takes a distant back seat to the fact that HE CUT OFF SOME DUDES’ BALLS. I don’t care what anyone else in Congress has done, no one has ever done something as heinous as that. Good Lord.

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