The Most Scandalous Political Affairs in American History

Think presidents are the only ones with skeletons in their closet? Think again. Many politicians have dirty secrets — especially ones surrounding sex scandals and extramarital affairs.

We share some of the most scandalous political affairs in American history, ahead.

1. Rielle Hunter and John Edwards

John Edwards affair scandal

He not only had the affair, but he used campaign funds to hide it. | Steve Exum/Getty Images

Former U.S. Senator, John Edwards had an affair and conceived a child with actress and film producer, Rielle Hunter in 2007. When word got out, Edwards was the leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.

To protect his image, Hunter announced she was pregnant with the child of a young staffer on Edwards’ presidential campaign. However, in 2010, Edwards finally admitted he was the father.

Next: This affair cost Gary Hart the presidential race.

2. Donna Rice and Gary Hart

This affair caused a big stir. | National Enquirer/Getty Images

When Gary Hart, American politician and 1988 presidential candidate, had an affair with Donna Rice, he did not expect it to ruin his career. While he initially denied it — like most politicians and presidents do — Hart’s affair ended up costing him the presidency.

Rice went into hiding for 25 years and is now the CEO of Enough is Enough, a non-profit with a focus on making the internet safe for families and children.

Next: This U.S. Representative and pro-life advocate asked his mistress to get an abortion.

3. Shannon Edwards and Tim Murphy

Rep Tim Murphy

Talk about hypocrisy. | Tim Murphy/Wikimedia Commons

Talk about a scandal. When pro-life supporter and U.S. Representative, Tim Murphy had an affair — and a pregnancy scare — with Shannon Edwards he asked her to abort their unborn baby. Edwards had the last word when texts between the former lovers surfaced after Murphy shared a pro-life facebook post.

According to Post-Gazette, the text read: “And you have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options.”

Next: This former New York Governor was busted for using an escort service.

4. Ashley Dupré and Eliot Spitzer

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer (R) announces his resignation

He had been using an escort service. | Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Presidents aren’t the only elected officials to get involved with prostitutes. As it turns out, governors are just as guilty. Case in point: Ashley Dupré and former New York Governor, Eliot Spitzer. In 2008, the former governor was reported for using an elite escort service, where he had an affair with Dupré. Spitzer resigned just 7 days after the news broke.

Next: This affair ended with murder.

5. Maria Belen Chapur and Mark Sanford

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford Returns To Capitol After Unexplained Trip

He just thought he could disappear for a few days and no one would notice. | Davis Turner/Getty Images

Former South Carolina Governor, Mike Sanford and his mistress, Maria Belen Chapur have had the most scandalous — read: dramatic — love story of all. In June 2009, the former governor admitted to having an affair with an Argentine journalist (aka, Maria Belen Chapur) after disappearing for six days.

Prior to his disappearance, Sanford’s wife, Jenny Sanford found out about his extramarital affair and the two began a trial separation.

Since then, Sanford and his wife have divorced and he and his mistress got engaged in 2012. Sanford later called off the engagement and the two have been on and off since.

Next: Gary Condit’s hypocritical affair.

6. Chandra Levy and Gary Condit

Rep. Gary Condit

His mistress went missing after the affair. | Mike Theiler/AFP/Getty Images

Former U.S. Representative, Gary Condit once criticized President Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky, but he wasn’t exactly clean either. Condit had an affair with Federal Bureau of Prisons intern, Chandra Levy.

Levy later went missing and her remains were found in Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.. While there was an enormous amount of suspicion surrounding Condit’s involvement, he was apparently meeting with the vice president at the time of her disappearance and therefore cleared from the suspect list.

Next: Presidential campaigns often end affairs (and affairs often end presidential campaigns).

7. Ginger White and Herman Cain

Herman Cain

They had a decade long affair. | Davis Turner/Getty Images

Ginger White and Herman Cain first met in the 1990s and began their decade-long affair after a business meeting. They kept their romance alive in various cities — Cain would fly White from city to city for dates — until Cain launched his presidential campaign in 2011.

Next: You should never mess around with your close friend’s wife.

8. Cynthia Hampton and John Ensign

Senator John Ensign

It’s always a bad idea to cheat with your friend’s wife. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The worst friend award goes to former Senator of Nevada, John Ensign. In December 2006, Ensign began an affair with his close friend’s wife and former treasurer of the Senate, Cynthia Hampton. But, all was over when her husband, Doug Hampton found out about their almost three year relationship. He went to the press in 2009 and Ensign found himself in the middle of a scandal.

Next: How an infamous D.C. madam was caught.

9. Deborah Jeane Palfrey and David Vitter

Senator David Vitter (R-LA)

If you seek out a prostitute as a politician, you will get caught. | Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

When it comes to prostitutes, politicians never learn. Case in point: Former Senator of Louisiana, David Vitter was caught using the services of famous D.C. madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey.

Palfrey was busted by the United States Government for running the popular escort service and hung herself before her trial.

Next: This affair landed both mistress and politician in jail.

10. Christine Beatty and Kwame Kilpatrick

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick arraignment

He was sentenced to four months in jail. | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Former Detroit mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick and his former Chief of Staff, Christine Beatty’s affair landed them jail time — but, it’s not what you’re thinking.

Named in a slander suit for slamming two police officers in the media, Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to two felony obstruction of justice charges and was sentenced to four months in jail. But, Beatty faced a charged directly related to their extramarital affair.

The former Detroit Chief of Staff pleaded guilty to two felony counts of perjury and was sentenced to 120 days in jail for lying about her and Kilpatrick’s affair while under oath.

Next: This actor turned politician had an affair — and a child — with his housekeeper.

11. Mildred Baena and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver stand together as he is being sworn into office.

His wife ended up leaving him. | David Paul Morris/Getty Images

Former California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger had an affair with his housekeeper, Mildred Baena. And, in 2011, it was reported that they had a child together. Following the announcement and confirmation after paternity tests, Schwarzenegger’s wife, Maria Shriver left him.

Baena now lives a quiet life with her son in Bakersfield, California, where Schwarzenegger bought her a home.

Next: Some extramarital affairs have happy endings.

12. Callista Gingrich and Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich and Wife Callista at Republican National Convention

Third wife’s the charm? | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Some extramarital affairs have happy endings. Case in point: Newt and Callista Gingrich. The two began dating when Newt was married to his second wife, but that marriage didn’t last long. After six years together, Newt divorced his wife and married Callista.

Next: One for the books.

13. Paula Broadwell and David Petraeus

CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus Resigns After Affair with Paula Broadwell

His mistress ended up having to go into hiding. | ISAF via Getty Images

When former director of the CIA and retired four-star general, David Petraeus had an affair with the author of his biography, Paula Broadwell. Petraeus resigned from his position and Broadwell — who was 20 years his junior — went into hiding.

Next: A plan that backfired.

14. Sydney Leathers and Anthony Weiner

Anthony Weiner Scandal

Again, Mr. Weiner? | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

In 2011, Anthony Weiner was caught having online affairs with multiple mistresses. But, that didn’t stop him from pursuing porn star, Sydney Leathers in 2012.

Following their affair, Leathers anonymously shared screenshots of their “sexts” with a gossip website, but her plan backfired. BuzzFeed picked up the story and figured out she was the source. Leathers found her face plastered across the internet and her inbox full of requests from journalists.

Fortunately for her, the scandal eventually quieted and Leathers went back to her small town life in Evansville, Indiana.

Next: An undercover lover

15. Larry Craig

Senator Larry Craig

The former senator got a little to friendly in the airport bathroom. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

In 2007, former Idaho Senator, Larry Craig was arrested for soliciting an undercover officer in an airport restroom. Following his arrest, more men came forward with stories of sexual encounters (or, attempted sexual encounters).

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