City of Scandal: Washington DC Teeming With Locations Haunted by Unsavory History

PHOTO: Washington's juiciest political scandals.
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Between the monuments and museums and interspersed among the lobbying firms and political consulting companies that pepper Washington, D.C., lie an array of inconspicuous buildings that have housed some of the nation's juiciest political scandals.

From the famous Watergate building to the lesser-known Jefferson Hotel, the country's capital city has been home to its fair share of dishonesty, deception and indecency.

Here's a look at the places where some of the country's most prominent politicians made some of their worst choices.

2600 Virginia Ave. NW Suite 610

Watergate Office Building

It was the scandal that rocked the White House and cemented the then-swanky Watergate Office Building into political corruption history. In 1972 five burglars broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters that spanned the sixth floor of the 12-story Watergate East building in an attempt to wiretap the offices. They were arrested in Suite 610 with thousands of dollars in cash.

That cash was traced through President Nixon's re-election committee and all the way back to the president himself, who allegedly tried to cover up the break-in. Nixon resigned two years later.

While "Watergate" has become synonymous with political corruption, the building itself is still used as offices, retail stores and residences, which sit between the Georgetown and Foggy Bottom areas if D.C. along the Potomac River. Several companies now operate out of the sixth floor offices where the break-in occurred, although about 2,000 sq. ft. of the space is still up for lease.

1400 M Street Northwest room 727

PHOTO: Westin Hotel, formerly Vista International Hotel, in Washington, D.C.
Westin
Westin Washington, D.C. City Center

Then-D.C. Mayor Marion Barry was five blocks from the White House when he took two long drags off of a crack pipe while lounging with his lady friend Rasheeda Moore in room 727 of what was then called the Vista International Hotel.

FBI agents, who were working with Moore and had installed hidden cameras in the room, stormed in and arrested the mayor, who was later charged with drug possession. "B*tch set me up," Barry muttered repeatedly as he was led out of the room in handcuffs. Barry served six months in federal prison and was re-elected mayor four years later. Since Barry's now-infamous arrest in 1990, the Vista Hotel has changed hands multiple times and is now a renovated Westin Hotel.

1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

White House's Oval Office

Monica Lewinsky was only 22 years old when she came to the White House as an unpaid intern for then-President Bill Clinton's chief of staff in 1995. Four months later President Clinton led her into the presidential study adjoining the Oval Office where their 16-month affair began.

According to reports given to Congress during Clinton's impeachment trial, the president and Lewinsky had multiple sexual encounters in the Oval Office, the president's study and the bathroom near the Oval Office.

More than a year after their affair ended, Clinton admitted to the country in a televised address that he "did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate."

1127 Connecticut Avenue Northwest, Room 871

Mayflower Hotel

One night with a high-priced call girl in room 871 at the Mayflower Hotel was all it took to unravel former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's political career.

Using wiretaps, federal investigators caught Spitzer using the pseudonym "Client 9" to arrange for a girl from the Emperor's V.I.P. Club, an online prostitution ring, to travel from New York to D.C. for a rendezvous. He paid nearly $3,000 for the prostitute, which was not his first payment to the prostitution ring, according to the affidavit.

Spitzer resigned as governor days after the scandal broke, but was never charged with any crimes.

Tidal Basin

Speaking of prostitutes, stripper Anabel Battistella aka "the Argentine Firecracker" earned herself the nickname "Tidal Basin Bombshell" after she jumped out of a car with former Rep. Wilbur Mills, D-Ark., and into the Tidal Basin, a large pond between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials.

Mills, then the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means committee, was driving Battistella home with a few friends after a night of drinking. Mills had apparently been having an extended affair with the stripper.

When the park police pulled the car over because it did not have its lights on, Battistella made a run for it and had to be rescued from the Tidal Basin.

1250 South Hayes Street, Arlington, Virginia

Ritz Carleton Hotel parking lot

Former Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., did not even have to step foot inside The Pentagon City Ritz Carleton hotel to make it one of the D.C. area's most scandalous sites. That's where Jefferson picked up a briefcase filled with a $100,000 bribe that he received for helping a telecommunications company expand their business to Nigeria.

Jefferson used his clout as a Congressman to meet with the Nigerian president and vice president on behalf of the company, which gave him $400,000 and a 30 percent equity stake in return.

Federal investigators caught wind of the scheme and searched Jefferson's home and office in the Rayburn House Office Building. They found $90,000 hidden in the freezer of his Washington, D.C., house.

Jefferson was convicted on 11 counts of bribery, conspiracy, money laundering and racketeering.

45 Independence Avenue Southwest

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Rayburn House Office Building

Deep in the sub-basement of the Rayburn House Office Building lies the Congressional "Wellness Center" (aka gym), a place only current or former members of Congress can go.

Few others have seen inside the steel doors that unceremoniously mark its entrance. That was, until former Rep. Anthony Weiner tweeted a half-naked photo of himself with the Congressional men's locker room in the background.

The photos, posted on TMZ, went viral and after two weeks of rampant rumors and denials Weiner finally resigned.

1200 16th St. NW

Jefferson Hotel

While Clinton was having a not-so-secretive affair with Lewinsky in the Oval Office, the chief political strategist for his re-election campaign was having a steamy affair of his own five blocks away at the Jefferson Hotel.

In suite 205 the married Morris had a year-long relationship with a $200-per-hour call girl, Sherry Rowlands. The tabloid Star broke the scandal in 1996 and Morris resigned shortly afterward.

Because having sex with a prostitute is not illegal in D.C., although soliciting sex with one is, Morris was never charged with a crime.

4407 W St. NW

FBI's Georgetown meeting house

To the unknowing passerby the red brick house in D.C.'s upscale Georgetown neighborhood looks like just any other house on just another residential street. But for two years the ordinary house was home to the FBI sting operation code named ABSCAM that tried to catch federal lawmakers who would trade political favors for cash.

The FBI remodeled the house to conceal cameras, microphones and a high-tech security system.

Sen. Harrison A. Williams Jr. was one of the lawmakers caught in the sting after he agreed to use his position to further his business venture. He was convicted on nine counts of bribery and conspiracy in 1981 and served three years in prison.

133 C St. SE

Christian Men's House

This hundred-year-old row house is a double whammy for political scandals.

Both Sen. John Ensign and Representative-turned South Carolina Gov. Mark Stanford had high-profile affairs and were frequent visitors to the house, which served as a place for prayer and religious devotion for the five congressman, including Ensign, who lived there and the many other politicians who frequented the house.

Ensign resigned from the Senate after word got out that he was having an affair with his best friend and top aide's wife. Stanford, who often went to the house as a congressman and later as governor, was nearly impeached by the South Carolina legislature after disappearing for a week and having an affair with an Argentine mistress.

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