This Valentine’s Day, stop complaining about how lonely you are and instead be grateful: at least you’re not a politician. Plagued all too often by the perils of love, some elected officials could make even the most hopeless Northwestern student feel secure about his or her love life. Here’s a look at the 10 worst scandals and affairs from the past few decades that make the single life look good.
10. Newt Gingrich’s double standard
In 1998, House Speaker Newt Gingrich was married to his second wife, Marianne, but was making love with a Congressional aide nearly 20 years younger than him. But what makes this affair unique? It was all happening when Gingrich was leading the charge to impeach President Bill Clinton for his involvement with Monica Lewinsky. Gingrich, however, justified his affair in that unlike Clinton’s situation, there was no perjury involved. Gingrich went on to marry his lover in 2000 and luckily for him, his affair was only outed in 2007.
9. Kwame Kilpatrick’s racy text messages
Riddled with all sorts of corruption charges, Kwame Kilpatrick, the former mayor of Detroit, topped it all off with an extramarital affair. Sure, he may have used his influence to funnel $175,000 of state grant money to his wife, but he cheated on her too with his chief of staff Christine Beatty. While they were both married to other people at the time, they denied the affair until evidence from their city-issued cell phones proved otherwise. It was discovered that Beatty texted him asking, “And, did you miss me, sexually?” to which Kilpatrick responded, “Hell yeah! [...] I want some more.”
8. Wilbur Mills’ wet stripper
In 1974, Congressman Wilbur Mills, then the Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, was pulled over by a D.C. police officer for the innocuous charge of driving without headlights. What unfolded was a bit more interesting. The officer found Mills drunk in the back seat with an Argentine stripper giving him some company. In an attempt to escape, the stripper ran out of the car and jumped into the Potomac River. Amazingly, voters re-elected him later that year, but his wife of 40 years probably wasn’t one of them.
7. Gary Hart’s model girlfriend
Gary Hart was a U.S. Senator from Colorado who was the Democratic frontrunner in the 1988 presidential campaign. When rumors surfaced that he was being unfaithful to his wife Lee, Hart quickly responded to the press, saying, “Follow me around. I don’t care. I’m serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They’ll be very bored.” The Miami Herald took him up on his offer and photographed him getting frisky with 29-year-old model Donna Rice, his apparent girlfriend. Hart dropped out of the race a week later. Despite two separations with his wife, he and Lee are still together today, having been married for nearly 50 years.
6. Eliot Spitzer’s prostitution ring
Both Harvard Law graduates, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and his wife Silda Wall were a power couple. As Attorney General, Spitzer was feared for his voracious appetite for cleaning up shady business and dirty ethics in New York. That’s why the state of New York was scratching its head when it was discovered that Spitzer had been involved in a prostitution ring, hiring and getting comfortable with one woman in particular who was only a few years older than Spitzer’s daughters. After intense public humiliation and media embarrassment, Spitzer resigned as governor and disappeared into anonymity. Though as of late, he is still married to Wall and has been rumored to run for public office again in New York.
5. Strom Thurmond’s illegitimate child
U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond ran for President in 1948 as a staunch segregationist. Little did anyone know, however, that at the same time he was advocating black and white drinking fountains, he was also secretly the father of a 23-year old daughter he had conceived with a black woman. Thurmond kept this ironic reality hidden until his death in 2003 when his secret daughter revealed her identity to the public and announced that Thurmond had been financially assisting her for his life without anyone knowing.
4. Jim McGreevey’s gay partner
On the outside, former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey’s life showed the growing trends of American relationships: he married, had a child, divorced, married again and had another child. Then, in 2004, an adviser who he had fired two years earlier tried exacting revenge by threatening to sue McGreevey for sexual harassment. The adviser was a man. Shortly thereafter, McGreevey announced, “My truth is that I am a gay American.” McGreevey resigned as governor, was immediately divorced by his wife, and now lives with his partner Mark O’Donnell. Interestingly, McGreevey currently teaches classes on ethics, law, and leadership at Kean University.
3. Vito Fossella’s second family
A family man in more ways than one, New York Congressman Vito Fossella illegally used campaign funds to take his wife and kids on expensive vacations and NFL playoff games. Unfortunately, he didn’t treat his second family as nicely. After a drunk driving arrest in 2008, Fossella was released to the custody of Laura Fay, a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force. After suspicion arose that he was not bailed out by his family or a staff member, Fossella admitted that he had been hiding a sexual relationship with Fay, with whom he had been raising a three-year-old daughter out of wedlock, unbeknownst to his real family.
2. John Edwards’ videographer
Formerly a U.S. Senator from North Carolina, John Edwards most recently ran unsuccessfully for president in 2008 and tried to pull some strings to get the Number 2 spot from Obama. Amidst all this campaigning, Edwards was cheating on his longtime wife Elizabeth, with whom he had four children. News broke that Edwards was having an affair with one of his campaign videographers, Rielle Hunter, and was the father of her newborn child. After initially denying the rumors, he admitted he had been unfaithful and a few months later, he admitted he was the baby daddy. The most disturbing detail is that the affair happened while his wife was battling incurable cancer. Elizabeth recently separated from Edwards after he got into a physical altercation with her, and it’s been reported that he is now back together with Hunter.
1. John G. Schmitz’s neglected children
Throughout his life, California congressman John Schmitz fathered nine children — but he only acknowledged the existence of seven of them. Outside of his marriage with wife Mary, Schmitz had an affair with Carla Stuckle, with whom he fathered a son and daughter. His relationship to the two children was only revealed when the infant son was hospitalized after his penis was nearly severed off with a strand of hair. Doctors and detectives demanded to know the father of the boy and soon learned it was Schmitz. Though the baby was fine, the incident caused his real wife to lose her job as a political commentator. Furthermore, he didn’t financially support his illegitimate children, forcing Stuckle to work two jobs until she died from complications from diabetes, orphaning her children. What a guy.