Once their work on the hill was done, these pols were no strangers to controversy. We take a look at some of the most tawdry affairs and public scandals that rocked the lives of these politicians, and how each one weathered the storm.
Is it possible that one of the first presidents was, in fact, a father to an unacknowledged child? DNA tests have provided compelling evidence surrounding the speculation that Jefferson sired at least one child with his slave, Sally Hemings. According to the museum dedicated to his estate, the rumor first found footing in the public arena when a journalist published a story about it in 1802. Neither Jefferson nor Hemings ever addressed the accusation. To this day, Jefferson's paternity of any of her children has not been established with any absolute certainty.
Genetic testing conducting in the 1990s suggested that Heming's last child was fathered by someone from the Jefferson clan, but the testing used DNA from the descendants of Jefferson's uncle, since Jefferson himself had no sons.
In September 2011, Robert Turner published a book drawing together reports commissioned by the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society that did not show much support for the accusations. Yet the myth of Jefferson's double life lives on.
Being the only American president to ever serve two non-consecutive terms in office is not Grover Cleveland's only claim to fame. The presidential campaign of 1884 was rocked by news of a sex scandal involving Cleveland and 33-year-old widow Maria Halpin. The Buffalo Evening Telegraph reported that in 1874, Halpin gave birth to Cleveland's illegitimate child, Oscar Folsom Cleveland. Cleveland was also accused of arranging Halpin's commitment to an insane asylum and the child's placement in an orphanage.
The presidential hopeful admitted to the affair, but denied that he was the father of Halpin's child. Nevertheless, he agreed to provide both mother and son with financial support. According to the Cleveland camp, the candidate arranged for Halpin to be put in a half-way house because of her alcoholic tendencies which, Cleveland reasoned, endangered the welfare of her child. During the campaign, Republicans would chant the slogan "Ma, Ma, Where's My Pa?" When "Grover the Good" won the race, his supporters retorted: "Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha!"
The Haplin sex scandal is probed and investigated in a new book, A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of President Grover Cleveland, by Charles Lachman.
New Yorkers were shocked when then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a former prosecutor who was dubbed "Eliot Ness" in reference to his ferocity in chasing Wall Street corruption, found himself at the center of a major prostitution scandal. Spitzer was exposed by federal authorities in March 2008 for paying $10,000 to the Emperor Clubs VIP, a D.C.-based prostitution ring. Nicknamed "Client No. 9" by the brothel, the former governor reportedly paid 22-year-old Ashley Dupré $1,000 an hour for their rendezvous. Spitzer resigned March 17, 2008.
Since his resignation, Spitzer has worked as a regular columnist for Slate Magazine. In November 2008, he wrote an opinion piece on the financial crisis in the Washington Post. Spitzer also joined forces with CNN in 2010 to host a "round-table" discussion program called "Parker Spitzer" (later renamed "In the Arena"). CNN announced it was canceling the show in July 2011.
Under tremendous pressure and scrutiny, former New York Rep. Vito Fossella acknowledged in 2008 that he fathered a child from an extramarital affair with Laura Fay three years earlier. One week before his statement, Fossella was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated for having a blood-alcohol level of 0.17 percent. When police pulled him over, the ex-congressman supposedly told the arresting officers that he was going to visit his sick daughter. Fay, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, raised eyebrows when she picked Fossella up after his arrest.
Fossella served out the remainder of his term, but did not run for re-election. He and his wife, Mary Patricia Fossella, are still married and have three kids.
In the summer of 2009, then-South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford told his staff he was hiking the Appalachian Trail and disappeared into Argentina. Just days after the media discovered he was missing, Sanford came forward and admitted having an affair with a woman he called his "soulmate." Emails between Sanford and his mistress portrayed them as star-crossed, stuck in a "hopelessly impossible situation of love."
Sanford said he had carried on a friendship with the woman for eight years that only turned into a love affair between 2008 and 2009.
Sanford's wife, Jenny, filed for divorce six months after her husband's public admission, and the couple legally split in February 2010.
Two years after the scandal, Sanford told the New York Times he is still in love with that same woman.
During his 2008 run for president, John Edwards seemed like an all-American boy, but just a couple years later, the country saw him in a very different light. In 2010, Edwards admitted that he fathered the baby born to ex-mistress Rielle Hunter during his run for president. Adding insult to injury, Edwards carried on the affair while his wife was battling terminal cancer.
Edwards was indicted on charges that he misused almost $1 million in campaign funds to cover up the affair with Hunter. Edwards' lawyers sought to dismiss the charges in the indictment, but the North Carolina judge denied the dismissal. While his criminal trial was due to begin in less than a month, letter's from Edward's cardiologist about his heart condition set the date back by at least two months.
In May 2011, Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California and husband to Maria Shriver, revealed that he fathered a son with former housekeeper Mildred Baena 14 years earlier. Baena's ex-husband was listed as the father on son Joseph's birth certificate.
When Schwarzenegger learned of what he coined "the event," he began providing financial support to Joseph and his mother in the form of money, toys and trips. When the actor announced his plans to run for governor of California in 2003, Baena remained silent, despite her ability to commit extortion or make any demand she wanted.
In October 20023, the Los Angeles Times published allegations of sexual misconduct from six different women and threatened Schwarzenegger's candidacy, but Shriver quickly came to her husband's defense on the "Oprah Winfrey Show."
In 2008, Baena filed for divorce from her husband, citing in divorce papers that the two had no minor children together. After 20 years, she stopped working at their home. After the revelations of Schwarzenegger's secret son, Shriver filed for divorce and the former governor put all his move and television projects on hold.
In late May, a tweet with a photograph of a man in boxer briefs was sent to a female college student from the Twitter account of Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y. Weiner at first denied that he had sent the tweet, claiming his account had been hacked, but he refused to say whether he was the man pictured in the image.
As more women came forward with photos of the congressman, Weiner eventually admitted having relationships with six women via Internet and cellphone. He said he had sent the first revealed tweet by accident, believing it to be a private message. "I take full responsibility for my actions," Weiner said. "The picture was of me, and I sent it." Weiner resigned his position in mid June.
Two days later, ABC News learned that Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, was pregnant with the couple's first child. Abedin, 35, is an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She chose to stay with Weiner despite the scandal.