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The top 5 political scandals in history

US election
IT’S been one of the weirdest election races in the history of modern democracy.

Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton.

Scandal after scandal.

The sooner this is all over, the better.

After reigniting an investigation into an email scandal that has plagued Clinton’s campaign, the FBI cleared the Democratic candidate of any wrongdoing on Sunday night – for the second time since July.

The scandal lead to Donald Trump dubbing the candidate “Crooked Hilary” and casting a lot of doubt over her trustworthiness going into the latter stages of the presidential campaign.

As for Trump – the man is a walking controversy.

Sex scandals, tax dodging, xenophobia, a very basic lack of policy knowledge and daily bullying have plagued his campaign to date and evoked comparisons with famous fascist leaders, but it’s hard to argue that the reality TV star has not plugged into something significant inside a large majority of the American people – a distrust of the establishment and a want for change.

Inspired by these poor candidates and their issues, we took at a look at the biggest talking points, scandals and controversies in politics worldwide and compiled a list of the most shocking, insane and borderline hilarious events that we have ever seen take place in a public office.

Where do Trump and Clinton sit among these big moments from history?

Watergate Scandal

There is political scandals that reverberate around the world and bring a nation to a standstill, and then there is the Watergate scandal.

In the early hours of June 17 1972, five members whom had connections to then President Richard Nixon attempted to set up wiretaps and steal documents from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), located in the Watergate building in Washington, D.C.


Despite professing to have no knowledge of the operation (a fact that historians still debate to this day), Nixon attempted to cover up the espionage, even going as far as to pay ‘hush money’ to the men that were arrested.

Although never arrested himself, the scandal forced Nixon to resign from office, unintentionally creating what is still to this day the biggest controversy in worldwide politics.

Enduring moment of the scandal: Perhaps the biggest legacy of the Watergate scandal is the everlasting addition of the suffix “gate” to any new scandal.

Harold Holt’s disappearance

Although not a true ‘scandal’ in its purest form, Harold Holt’s disappearance remains Australia’s greatest political mystery that is still unexplained almost 50 years on.

Widely considered one of the hardest working politicians of all-time, Holt spent more than 30 years in Australian parliament before becoming Prime Minister in 1966, but the unusual circumstances around his death (just the third Prime Minister in history to die whilst in office) remains his legacy.

Holt disappeared while swimming at Cheviot Beach near Portsea, Victoria on 17 December, 1967 and his body was never recovered.

Police were unable to identify the cause of Holt’s death. A joint report by Commonwealth and Victoria Police, submitted in January 1968, concluded that ‘there has been no indication that the disappearance of the late Mr Holt was anything other than accidental’.

Although many conspiracy theories have arisen from the incident, the Government accepted the police report and no formal inquiry was ever launched.

Enduring moment of the scandal: A key part of Australian vernacular, to do the “Harold Holt” means to leave an event or situation suddenly without explanation.

Bill Clinton sex scandal

Long before the FBI investigation and subsequent exoneration for democratic candidate Hilary Clinton’s email usage within the white house, it was husband and then President Bill Clinton who was courting the most controversy as a Clinton.

In 1998 news of a potential affair between President Bill Clinton and a 25-year-old intern by the name of Monica Lewinsky sent shockwaves around the world, turning the White House into a circus and throwing the legacies of one of America’s finest leaders into the toilet.

Clinton scandal

Clinton was facing impeachment for what would have been just the second time in US political history, but he was ultimately acquitted of any wrongdoing, but the perfect press storm around the entire affair may have been one of the precursors to the sensationalist storytelling that we now see every day in our current 24 hour news cycle.

Enduring moment of the scandal: Clinton’s line of “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” may be almost two decades old, but it still remains a part of today’s lexicon.

The Profumo affair

What is it with politicians and their penchant for the unsavoury?

The Profumo affair was a British political scandal that originated after a brief sexual relationship in 1961 between John Profumo – the then Secretary of State for War in Harold Macmillan’s government – and Christine Keeler, a 19-year-old exotic dancer.

In March 1963, Profumo denied any indecency in a personal statement to the House of Commons, but was forced to admit the truth about their relationship a few weeks later.

He subsequently was forced to resign from the government and from Parliament.

A politician being unscrupulous, nothing new here right? Wrong.

Christine Keller had ties to both Profumo and Soviet naval attaché Captain Yevgeny Ivanov, a fact that threatened to create a national public safety risk to England and cause an international incident.

Keller had met both Profumo and Ivanov through socialite Stephen Ward, who had connections to both men and was subsequently charged with a litany of immorality offences. Ward took his life not long after the trail began.

As far as messy and tangled political scandals go, this one sits towards the very top.

Enduring moment of the scandal: Few scandals have captured the imagination of show business like this one. Stage shows aplenty as well as a 1989 film named Scandal featuring Ian McKellen as Profumo and John Hurt as Ward.

John Stonehouse unsuccessfully attempts to fake his own death

The name John Stonehouse may not be as recognisable as the other names that have featured on this list, but his story is by far the most bizarre in political history.

Stonehouse had a notable political career, being MP of Stonewall and Secretary to Minister of Aviation, but his tenure in office was often marred by allegations he was a Czechian spy.

Although the accusations were never confirmed whilst he was in office, he found himself out of the political realm after the Labour Party lost the 1970s election.

Here is where things get a little peculiar.


Stonehouse then decided to become an entrepreneur. His business ventures were a failure and he began taking part in fraudulent activities to cover his shortcomings.

Not long after this, Stonehouse hatched a plot to fake his own death in America after funnelling funds from his other accounts into Australian banks.

The scenario caused a political storm between Australia and England, which eventually were able to extradite their man who spent the next seven years in jail, not to mention the accusations of espionage were proven in 1977 after a Czech defector spilt the beans on Stonehouse.

Other scandals may have better name recognition, but the Stonehouse story is one that defies all logic.

Enduring moment of the scandal: Spying, fake deaths and fraud.

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