Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey was recently indicted by the Justice Department on 14 corruption counts. It is alleged that the senator intervened on the behalf of a Florida doctor’s business interests in return for lavish gifts and money over as many as 20 years.
While it may be surprising that a prominent politician would potentially put him or herself in such a position, it is not exactly uncommon.
While Senator Menendez maintains his innocence at the charges, some other notable politicians have actually been convicted of serious crimes, just in the past two years alone. If you don’t live in their local areas, you may have missed the news coverage.
Here is the list of some notorious politicians and their convictions over the past 24 months:
Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell
In a case that echoes the accusations against Senator Menendez, the former governor and his wife were convicted for accepting gifts from a shady political donor who then used this leverage to garner business favors from the Governor. Both McDonnell and his wife were sentenced to prison terms after being convicted on a number of counts broadly related to corruption and abuse of office.
US Representative Michael Grimm
It took awhile, but Grimm eventually paid the price for running a dirty campaign that got him elected in 2010 to serve in the US House, representing Staten Island and some parts of Brooklyn. Grimm’s funny fundraising opened the door to a wider federal investigation, which saw him plead guilty to a single count of felony tax fraud. After initially resisting stepping down from Congress, he finally resigned in January 2015. Yet to be sentenced, he could face up to 30 months in prison.
US Representative Trey Radel
Less fancy than the corruption and tax avoidance charges above, former US Representative Trey Radel got busted by buying cocaine from an undercover agent in DC in 2013. Like Grimm, Radel didn’t see the need to step down from federal office despite being a soon-to-be convicted criminal and hoped doing a stint in rehab would be enough to save his job representing the proud folks of southwest Florida. It wasn’t, though, and he was forced to resign by outside pressure. He did, however, avoid the slammer, serving just one year of probation. To top it off, his criminal record was wiped clean, too.
While the latest high-profile criminal case involving a politician is just kicking off, we hope we helped you understand that higher office doesn’t always mean a higher level of behavior.