Jan. 20, 2012 -- intro: 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.
quicklist: 1title: Thomas Jeffersonurl: 15395918text:
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.
quicklist: 2title: Grover Clevelandurl: 15395918text:
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.