2014’s sleaziest political scandals

By Jessica Huseman
@JessicaHuseman
Dec. 31, 2014

As we round out 2014, it’s time to reflect on how scandalous a year it truly was. This year was pretty much all-around shitty, but the politics of 2014 took the cake as the most misery-filled and sleaze-ridden nightmare. As we celebrate at midnight (largely out of excitement that the year has gone to its grave), let’s take a moment to reflect on how terrible and incompetent our elected leaders are. Yay!

Bridgegate

Photo by Bob Jagendorf

Chris Christie. Photo by Bob Jagendorf

While the entries below are in no specific order, I’m putting this one at the top because of its name recognition. It started with the words “It’s time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” written in an email from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s aid, and ended with a traffic meltdown on the George Washington Bridge. While Christie called the emails “unsanctioned” and no one has really been able to trace them back to him, they had a pretty big impact on his popularity (though he seems to have bounced back) with people calling him “petty” and “vengeful”. All of the attacks even led him to declare, “I am not a bully” in a press conference. Good luck in 2016, Christie.

Michael “Break You in Half Like a Boy” Grimm

New York Rep. Michael Grimm was indicted on   20 federal charges including tax evasion and perjury on April 28. He plead guilty to tax evasion and has now resigned from office.

New York Rep. Michael Grimm was indicted on 20 federal charges including tax evasion and perjury on April 28. He plead guilty to tax evasion and has now resigned from office.

We only thought that Michael Grimm’s low point was when he threatened to break a NY1 reporter in half “like a boy” and throw him off a balcony. In fact, it was only a few days ago that he pled guilty to tax evasion. Womp womp. That’s only one of the 20 federal charges he’s facing, stemming from his ownership of a store called “Healthicious.” Though he originally pledged to stay in office, he has now resigned citing how much of a distraction the fact that he’s a felon would be. On the upside, he’s now available to you for branding services.

Bob McDonnell and his ‘Nutbag’ Wife Convicted

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, in 2009. Photo by Eric Brown.

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, in 2009. Photo by Eric Brown.

It’s been a pretty bad year for Republicans when it comes to people getting convicted for things, and Bob might take the cake. Once the prom king of the Republican Party, the former governor of Virginia went down hard earlier this year after he was found guilty of corruption. Why? Because he and his wife had accepted gifts and money from a rich dude in Virginia who owned a “health” company selling tobacco-based products. While his kids recently asked the judge for lenience, they decided to do so only for their father saying that their father was just a modest dude who was manipulated by his crazy wife.

V.A. Hospital Waitlists

Audie L. Murphy Veterans Administration Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. Billy Hathorn/Wikipedia Commons

Audie L. Murphy Veterans Administration Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. Billy Hathorn/Wikipedia Commons

It’s difficult to put this on a “scandal” list because this is less of a scandal and more of a complete and inexcusable fuck up. The long waitlist and structural incompetence left hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan vets waiting so long for medical care that some died or committed suicide from perfectly treatable conditions. The long-overdue Congressional investigation into the operations of the VA unveiled several heinous coverups, and while the newly appointed V.A. head Robert McDonald has already announced a restructuring and a bunch of firings, it’s pretty clear that the world will be watching for some tangible progress in the next few months.

Secret Service incompetence

WhiteHouseSouthFacade

This was a year of huge failure for the Secret Service, who allowed a crazy guy to run across the White House lawn early this fall. Two weeks later, the same thing happened except this guy had a knife and made it into the White House — through the door, which the Secret Service evidently leaves unlocked? This led to the resignation of Julie Pierson, the agency’s director (slow clap), and some angry questioning from Congress. This would all be pretty funny if the stakes weren’t so high.

Vance McAllister: The Kissing Congressman

Vance McCallister

Louisiana Republican Vance McCallister was first elected to Congress in 2012 after he ran as a good, Christian family man. He won’t be returning in January, as he came in a whopping fourth this time around after being caught on tape passionately kissing one of his married staffers. While his wife stuck by him and said she felt “blessed” to be married to a guy who admitted his mistakes, his constituents weren’t buying it.

Leeland Yee: Gun Trafficker, Bribe Taker

Leland Yee. Adithya Sambamurthy/The Center for Investigative Reporting

Leland Yee. Adithya Sambamurthy/The Center for Investigative Reporting

This one kind of reads like a B-rated action film. Leland Yee, a Democratic California State Senator, was arrested by the FBI on March 26 on charges of both public corruption and gun trafficking. Yep. Gun trafficking. Specifically for buying automatic firearms and shoulder-launched missiles from an Islamist extremist group in the Philippines and trying to resell them to an undercover FBI agent. He also accepted a $10,000 bribe from another undercover agent in exchange for placing a call to the California Department of Public health regarding a contract. The California State Senate suspended him, and his charges have now been put on a fast-track to trial. Best part? In 2006, Yee was named to the Gun Violence Prevention Honor Roll by the Brady Campaign as he co-authored a bill that would require new semiautomatic handguns to be equipped with micro-stamping — the bill was the first of its kind in the nation. We assume the Brady Campaign has now removed his name from the roll.

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