Money, Power, And No Respect: Politicians Who Notoriously Cheated On Their Spouses
Politicians take an oath to serve the country with integrity when they are sworn in, but most don’t seem to feel that same obligation when it comes to their spouses. Despite being held to a higher standard than everyone else, these 15 public servants put it all on the line — including their jobs — when they got caught with their pants down cheating on their wives.
On his quest from the Terminator to the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger was called a womanizer on the campaign. His wife, Maria Shriver, vouched for her husband and assured voters the former Austrian bodybuilder was not the man the media and his opponents painted him to be. But a few months after leaving office, it was reported that Shriver moved out of their California home and less than a week later, the public found out why: Schwarzenegger fathered a child with the maid, Mildred, during their 25-year marriage. Suspecting that her husband was the father of the boy, Shriver confronted the maid who confirmed her suspicions. Although the couple officially separated, they have reportedly attended marital counseling. Schwarzenegger has publicly admitted he would like to reunite with Shriver.
Newt Gingrich has always believed that a marriage is between a man and a woman but he also believes it’s okay to leave your wife for your mistress just as long as you marry the other woman. The former Speaker of the House left first wife of 18 years, Jackie, after he began an affair with a woman named Marianne whom he ended up marrying six months after the divorce was finalized (Gingrich actually requested a divorce from Jackie as she battled cancer). Twelve years into his second marriage, Gingrich set his sights on a third wife, Callista, a staffer 23 years his junior. After allegedly requesting an open marriage from Marianne, Gingrich married Callista in 2000, four months after his second divorce was finalized. In response to a group of conservative Christians imploring him to sign their “marriage vow,” Gingrich vowed to “uphold personal fidelity to my spouse.”
Former Senator Larry Craig enjoyed a career in politics for almost three decades before an embarrassing arrest led to his downfall. In 2007, news leaked that the Idaho politician was picked up at the airport for soliciting sex from a male undercover officer. Never mind that Craig was married since 1983. Craig tried to hide the embarrassing episode from his wife and constituents by mailing off a guilty plea but news of the gay scandal leaked anyway. Craig initially vowed to resign from the senate before changing his mind and then tried to change his plea. After a ruling upheld his guilty plea, Craig finished out his term without seeking re-election in January 2009. He is still married to his wife Suzanne.
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was a well-respected Republican destined for a national office but that all changed during the summer of 2009. For six days, Sanford disappeared. As speculation grew about his whereabouts and why the governor of a state would choose to go off the grid, Sanford’s spokesman said he was hiking on the Appalachian trails. The truth was the governor was holed up in Argentina with his mistress whom he met back in 2001. Sanford finished out his term and his wife filed for divorce. Determined to turn his mistress into a housewife, Sanford popped the question last year and is currently a U.S. Representative, serving the same district he served before becoming governor.
While there were rumors of other presidents cheating on their wives while in the White House, President Clinton was the only one busted in the act while in office. When word spread that there was an intern by the name of Monica Lewinsky alleging she was fooling around with the president, Clinton insisted that he did not have “sexual relations with that woman.” He later came clean to the public but vowed to stay in office. All the while his wife Hillary stood by his side. Many wondered if Hillary had political aspirations of her own. All speculation was confirmed when she ran for senator of New York in 2000.
When President Bill Clinton came clean about cheating on his wife, Congressman Dan Burton was one of his more vocal adversaries. During the impeachment scandal, Burton told reporters, “No one, regardless of what party they serve, no one, regardless of what branch of government they serve, should be allowed to get away with these alleged sexual improprieties.” A few months later, Vanity Fair magazine published an article that revealed Burton had a child with a former state employee outside of his marriage to Barbara Burton. Mrs. Burton passed away from cancer in 2002 and the congressman remarried four years later.
For two and a half years, Jim McGreevey was the governor of New Jersey. He wasn’t able to finish his first term as governor due to his affair with a former government employee. Eyebrows were raised after McGreevey appointed Golan Cipel homeland security advisor even though he lacked experience, but it wasn’t until McGreevey held a press conference that it became clear how Cipel got the job. Faced with threats of a sexual harassment lawsuit, and with his wife Dina by his side, McGreevey announced he was a gay American who engaged in a consensual relationship with Cipel. After resigning from office and divorcing his wife, McGreevey found happiness with partner Mark O’Donnell.
Congressman Anthony Weiner had dreams and aspirations of being the mayor of New York City, but those dreams were dashed after Weiner inadvertently tweeted a suggestively sexual photo of himself that he meant to send as a direct message back in 2011. Weiner initially said his account was hacked but eventually he conceded to his many photographic discretions during the course of his marriage to wife Huma. Weiner resigned in shame only to resurface recently to once again run for mayor of New York City. Weiner and his wife welcomed their first child six months after he left office.
John Ensign was enjoying his career in politics until the sloppiness in his personal life came to light in 2009. His affair with a married staffer went public after her husband contacted the press. “Last year I had an affair. I violated the vows of my marriage,” Sen. Ensign said at the time. “It is the worst thing I have ever done in my life.” To make matters worse, it was revealed the former senator paid off the husband with a cushy lobbying job and $96,000 in cash from his parents. Ensign resigned two years later.
A rising star in the Democrat party, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer risked it all for a pretty sex worker from New Jersey. Federal investigators initially were concerned about a series of wire transfers from Spitzer’s accounts, and upon digging a little further they stumbled on a high-priced sex ring. After news of his $1,000 an hour dalliance with Ashley Alexandra Dupre at a D.C. hotel spread, Spitzer resigned from office. Wife and mother of his three children, Silda, stuck by her husband’s side during the scandal. After an absence from the spotlight, Spitzer reemerged as a talking head on several networks including MSNBC, CNN and Current TV.
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned in shame after he was outed as client number nine in a prostitution sting, paving the way for his lieutenant governor, David Patterson, to run the state. Patterson and his wife Michelle decided to be upfront with the public and media right away and revealed there was a rocky period in their marriage where they both sought comfort from others. Wanting to work it out, the couple stuck together. “Like most marriages, you go through certain difficult periods,” said Mrs. Patterson in an interview. “What’s important is for your kids to see you worked them out.”
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sworn in office in 2002. Six years later, the disgraced politician was headed to prison after a corruption and obstruction of justice trial led to his downfall. During the trial, which was initially started out as an internal probe into the mayor’s action, Kilpatrick denied having an affair with his chief of staff, Christine Beatty — until transcripts of more than 14,000 lewd text messages between the two were read in court. “I cheated on my wife and I lied about it,” Kilpatrick said of the incident. He was found guilty in 2008, sentenced to prison, and resigned. Since then, Kilpatrick has been convicted on other charges of corruption and is facing a lengthy sentence.
New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was married to his second wife, Donna Hanover, for more than 18 years before the couple grew apart. Soon the mayor began to show up at public events with his “very good friend” Judith Nathan but it wasn’t until his press conference announcing the separation that Hanover knew it was over. A bitter divorce battle ensued shortly afterwards. Giuliani moved out of Gracie mansion and his mistress was barred from their marital home and not allowed to meet the children until after the divorce was finalized. The former mayor married Nathan and is reportedly estranged from his two children with Hanover.
After running for president in 2004, John Edwards agreed to be a part of John Kerry’s ticket by running for vice president. Although they lost to George Bush and Dick Cheney, Edwards still had his eyes on the White House and threw his hat into the ring again in 2008. During those four years in between his presidential campaigns, Edwards also had his eye on a woman he met on the trails. National Enquirer initially broke the shocking news that Edwards fathered a child with videographer Reille Hunter while his wife Elizabeth was battling cancer. After first denying the lovechild, Edwards eventually came clean. His wife filed for separation and passed away from breast cancer in 2010. Edwards is rumored to have moved his former mistress into his home with his other two children.
Back in 2007, many of Washington D.C.’s elite were worried about being outed after numbers from D.C. Madam’s phone records were published. Sen. David Vitter was one of those worried and with good reason; his number was among the many on the list. The junior senator from Louisiana released a statement asking for forgiveness. A week later, he held a press conference with his wife Wendy by his side, again asking for forgiveness. Sen. Vitter said his affiliation with the escort service was “a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible.” Not only did his constituents forgive him by re-electing him for another turn, Wendy forgave her husband as well and is still by his side.