Career-Ending U.S. Political Scandals
What a Tangled (Inter)Web
While social media has created new ways for politicians to build relationships with their constituents, it has also had a dark side: For elected officials in search of new ways to shoot their careers in the foot, it offers an almost irresistible weapon. Between humiliating self-portraits, ineradicable e-mails and -- in the case of Gen. John R. Allen and Jill Kelley -- an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 pages of compromising communication, it's easy to see how social media will open the door to a bright new future of humiliating scandals.
Prior to this month, the poster child for Internet scandals was Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y., above). Both because of his unfortunate surname and because of the embarrassing nature of the sexualized self-portraits that he tweeted to various women, Weiner's humiliation became a national punchline. He resigned in 2011.
But while Weiner was a Twitter trailblazer, he is hardly the first person to get caught making questionable use of social media. Another New York congressman, GOP Rep. Chris Lee, resigned after a news station reported that he'd sent a topless photo of himself to a woman he met on Craigslist. And much of Rep. Foley's harassment of congressional pages took place via e-mail.
However, the all-time worst internet political sex scandal (thus far) is probably that of Brian J. Doyle, Deputy Press Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. In 2006, Doyle was arrested after he conducted sexually-explicit internet conversations with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl. In point of fact, his internet correspondent was actually an undercover detective. Doyle was eventually sentenced to five years in prison for attempting to seduce a minor and transmitting harmful material to a minor.