Politics

12.28.13

Rob Ford and the Sleaziest Pols of the Year

It's hard to beat Toronto's mayor for scandalous behavior, but three Americans tried.

2013 was a sleazy year in politics. There may not have been a presidential election but those ruin the fun. After all, did Mitt Romney ever smoke crack in a drunken stupor or Barack Obama exchange sexually explicit text messages with a woman? Instead, the off-year had elections of less political significance but scandals that were a lot more fun. Here are the four sleaziest politicos of the year.

ROB FORD

Rob Ford doesn’t deserve to be in this article. It feels somehow demeaning to include with lesser mortals the man who admitted to smoking crack in a drunken stupor, accidentally tackled a city councilmember, discussed cunnilingus on camera and consumed enough vodka and cocaine to hospitalize an entire frat house. An exhaustive list of Ford’s scandals is difficult to compile ; after all Canadian prosecutors wrote up a 500 page report that didn’t come close. But, there is one simple way to measure the magnitude of Rob Ford’s sleaze: for the first time ever, he got Americans to follow Canadian politics.

ANTHONY WEINER

“Carlos Danger” began 2013 as a disgraced former politician and he ended the year the same way. In between, he briefly became the frontrunner to be the next mayor of New York before his campaign collapsed in yet another lurid sexting scandal. It turned out Weiner, who was forced to resign from Congress in disgrace in 2011 after sending pictures of his penis to various women on the Internet, had continued lurid cyber-correspondence with various women long after his resignation. One of them, a 22-year-old Indiana woman with the almost-improbable name Sydney Leathers went public with the explicit messages. The result sank Weiner’s candidacy but did lead Leathers having a brief 15 minutes of fame which included an appearance in a pornographic film.

BOB FILNER

Bob Filner is not the first politician to commit sexual harassment. In fact, he’s not even the first politician to serially harass and grope women. But he’s almost certainly the first one to count a former admiral in the U.S. Navy among his victims. Filner spent 20 years in Congress as a relatively obscure Democrat representing much of San Diego. Then, he became mayor of San Diego and the scandal floodgates opened. At least 18 women came forward and Filner was eventually forced to resign as mayor, pleading guilty to one felony and two misdemeanors related to his serial harassment.

TREY RADEL

Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fl) was an obscure first-term congressman. Then, the self-proclaimed “hip-hop conservative” got busted buying cocaine and became a national laughingstock. Radel quickly found a coke dealer in Washington and the Tea Partier seem to be as devoted to keeping his nose in the white stuff as he was to putting the budget into the black. After his bust and subsequent guilty plea to possession of cocaine, Radel took a leave of absence to go into rehab for what he described as an alcohol problem. The Florida congressman insistes he will run for re-election in 2014 but is facing an investigation by the House Ethics Committee.