Were you ever a hundred percent sure about a political candidate you voted for? Yes, the TV commercials, the flyers, and the moving speeches can be very convincing. But year after year, we’ve had to deal with the poor decisions and deliberate damage that these people have put us through. It’s not because we made the wrong choice, but because there was no other choice. When it comes to choosing political candidate, voters have one mantra – choose the lesser evil.
The U.S. government has access to billions of dollars that the hard working people of the nation have strived to obtain. How sure can you be that the candidate you elected into office wouldn’t get tempted to get his grubby hands on that fortune? Stories of corrupt politicians are a dime a dozen, but these most corrupt politicians definitely take the cake (and millions of dollars, too.)
5 Most Corrupt Politicians in U.S. History
- William Tweed
William “Boss” Tweed began his climb to power in the late 1840’s. He initially worked as a volunteer fireman for New York City but was considered a worthy leader among his comrades. It was because of his charm and charisma that he managed to grow his base of supporters. He became and alderman and served from 1853 to 1855. It was after this that he was elected into the U.S. House of Representatives.
Tweed’s reputation as one of the most corrupt politicians in US history started when he found himself wanting to rise through the ranks. He employed a group of men and women who had access to New York City’s funds. Their objective was to use these finances to give out jobs and other important contracts in exchange for political support. While researchers and experts are yet to uncover just how much of the city’s funds were sapped, they estimate that it might have been anywhere between $30 million and $200 million USD.
In just 2 years, Tweed managed to increase the city’s debt by $100 million dollars. In 1873, Tweed was convicted for acts of corruption and was sentenced to12 years in prison. He was released just a year later, but was rearrested after the city sued him for $6 million USD. The man fled to Spain but was recaptured and sent back to New York and imprisoned. He died of pneumonia in his prison cell in 1878.
- Ray Blanton
Elected Governor in 1975, Blanton’s corruption spree started when he pardoned a convicted murderer from sure imprisonment. It was later found out that the criminal’s father worked for Blanton as a county chairman. People found out about the connections and Blanton knew it would be hard for him to win a re-election. He decided to keep his money safe and opted to stay out of the following run. Right before the end of his term, however, Blanton seemed to want to make the most of his power.
The man went on a pardon-spree, freeing as many as 24 convicted murderers and 28 other criminals in exchange for cash. This easily gained him popularity as one of the most corrupt politicians. The Lieutenant Governor and the State House Speaker both scrambled to find a solution for Blanton’s spree, and decided that Alexander, Blanton’s replacement, had to be sworn in three days before his inauguration.
- Budd Dwyer
Budd Dwyer served as a member of the House of Representatives from 1965 to 1970. He then moved on to the Senate in the following ten years. After his term, he was elected to state Treasurer which would be the last position he held in office.
Dwyer was found guilty of taking $300,000 USD in the form of campaign donations from a computer company with an illegal contract. Aside from this, he was also charged with 5 counts of mail fraud, 4 counts of aiding racketeering, and 1 count of conspiracy to commit bribery. All together, Dwyer was set to face 55 years in prison and a fine of up to $300,000 USD.
The pressure of being recognized as among the most corrupt politicians was too great for Dwyer and everything came crashing down on January 22, 1987 – just one daw from his federal court sentencing hearing. During a press conference that was being filmed by numerous TV cameras, Dwyer gave a speech in front of the press. After handing out a few files to some of his people, he took a manila envelope to reveal a loaded .357 Magnum which he used to take his own life.
- George Ryan
The investigation on Ryan began in 1994 when he served as the Illinois Secretary of State. It was during this year that an explosive car accident killed 6 individuals and injured another 2. During the investigation, it was found that the man involved in the crash might not have passed his driver’s test, thus bringing to light the possibility that he was bribed in exchange of a license. An investigation was put into action but George Ryan fought to stop the effort. During the 8-year-long investigation, it was found that Ryan had been giving out numerous licenses throughout the years in exchange for political support and money, making him one of the most corrupt politicians in US history.
In 2003, Ryan was charged with racketeering, bribery, money laundering, extortion, and tax fraud. He was found guilty on all counts in 2006 an was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.
- Randy Duke Cunningham
Cunningham was a Navy fighter pilot in the Vietnam war who was highly decorated and respected by his comrades. His charisma and service led to his election as the San Diego U.S. House Representative between 1991 and 2005.
Cunningham was part of a powerful subcommittee that allotted funds to certain defence programs. The man was forced to resign in 2005 after being forced to plead guilty to bribery. Cunningham had allegedly taken bribes that totalled a whopping $2.4 million USD, the biggest value any of the most corrupt politicians has ever taken in known history. What did he use the money for? Well, Cunningham managed to secure a yacht, a luxury car, a condominium, and a mansion with his ill-gotten wealth. He was sentenced to 8 years in prison and was given a fine of $1.8 million in 2006.