Former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner is back in the news since he’s reportedly weighing a run for the mayorship of New York (The Atlantic Wire is even scrapping the “weighing” part and is just flat out saying he’s in the running.).
But let’s rewind. You remember Weiner, right? He’s the New York congressman whose reputation for having unbridled passion (normally in the context of his progressive politics) unfortunately manifested its way into his need for some sexual healing. After being caught sending a series of passionate pictorials of his nether region to an anonymous Twitter follower, he resigned in 2011.
But it’s not like political sex scandals are an eye popper by any means—there have been way too many to count. However, it has been an interesting year for the politicians who’ve recently fallen ill to—what we like to call—a case of extramarital crazy pants. Just like Weiner, a number of these elite-and-indiscreet characters have made headlines this year in their attempt for a second shot of redemption.
Eliot Spitzer: The Emperor Has No Clothes
Pre-scandal: Serving as governor of New York from 2007 – 2008, Democrat Eliot Spitzer built a reputation on cleaning up corruption during his days as a lawyer and later as New York State’s attorney general—from Wall Street to organized crime. He was also a zealous proponent on protecting the environment, public safety, and had proposed a bill on legalizing same-sex marriage.
Scandal: In 2008 the New York Times ran a story that revealed Spitzer was a regular at the Emperors Club VIP, an escort agency where they identified him as Client No. 9.
Comeback: After issuing a public apology and resigning his governorship, Spitzer quickly bounced back, becoming a regular columnist for Slate, making political TV appearances on MSNBC and HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher, and eventually striking a deal with CNN in 2010 to co-anchor a political round table with Kathleen Parker called Parker Spitzer. When that show tanked, Spitzer tried going solo with the network via In the Arena, but it, too, quickly took a bow. In March 2012, Spitzer joined Current TV to host his own show, Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer, but decided to part ways once the network joined forces with Al Jazeera. At this rate, we highly doubt this will be the last we see of The Spitz.
Mark Sanford: Don’t Cry For Me, Argentinahh!
Pre-scandal: As governor of South Carolina from 2003 – 2011, Republican Mark Sanford fiercely adhered to his party’s ideology of slashing both spending and the size of government; he was also noted for publicly refusing to accept stimulus money for his state. In matters of politicians with wandering eyes, Sanford had a record for that, too: He voted in favor of impeaching Bill Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky scandal and supported Louisiana Republican Congressman and Speaker-elect Bob Livingston to resign when it was revealed he had an extramarital affair in the late 90s. “The bottom line is that he lied under a different oath—the oath to his wife,” stated Sanford on Livingston.
Scandal: In June 2009, Sanford inexplicably went M.I.A. for almost a week and lost all contact with his staff members—but not before letting them know he was hiking up the Appalachian Trail. Eventually, his staff and the rest of the world discovered he was hiking up a very different trail…a trail that led him into the arms of Argentine Maria Belen Chapar, 43, whom he had met in 2001. Oh matters of the corazón!
Comeback: Apparently, luck was on Sanford’s side. Although his refusal to resign led to impeachment proceedings, he only ended up being censured by the House Judiciary Committee in 2009. After divorcing his wife Jenny Sanford in March 2010, Sanford decided to run for Congress earlier this year. He won the primary election with his beloved Argentine mistress by his side, now as his bride to be.
Jim McGreevey: From Gay Governor to Man of God
Pre-Scandal: As governor of New Jersey from 2002 – 2004, Jim McGreevey was a progressive Democrat who was pro-choice on abortion, raised taxes on the wealthy, promoted stem-cell research, and lobbied for equal rights for same sex couples.
Scandal: “My truth is that I am a gay American,” so said McGreevey at his press conference, in which he simultaneously announced his resignation. Prior to this, allegations of “pay to play” were being circulated against McGreevey when he appointed his then-secret lover Israeli Golan Cipel as homeland security adviser in 2002—a position Cipel was unqualified for. As more scrutiny came down on McGreevey’s appointment, he asked Cipel to step down. Soon after, Cipel slammed McGreevey with a sexual harassment lawsuit, and the rest is history. McGreevey was the first state governor in U.S. history to publicly admit his homosexuality.
Comeback: After getting a divorce from wife Dina Matos in 2008, McGreevey started a relationship with businessman Mark O’Donnell. In 2006 he went on the Oprah Winfrey Show to promote his memoir The Confession. But unlike his political predecessors, McGreevey has found a new calling. He recently received a Master of Divinity degree in hopes of becoming an Episcopalian priest, and it’s through his new vocation, he’s been working with Harlem prison inmates to rehabilitate them. All of this is documented in HBO’s new film Fall to Grace.
What do you think of these politicians’ attempt to return to the public spotlight? If former President Bill Clinton can make a comeback, so can they—right?