Rolling With the Pigs: The Top 6 Corrupt Politicians in US History

Corruption and politics have always gone hand in hand. The old quote “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men,” by Lord John Acton seems to really be true. Over the course of human history, the men (as it has almost always been men at the reigns of power, at least until relatively recently) who have power are often easily led astray by the power and the money that usually comes with that power.

If one were to take a cynical point of view, it seems that it is exceedingly rare to find a politician who is honest and good. As with all things, it is likely less raunchy than we seem to expect, but worse that is probably good for us as a race. Whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist, no one can deny that there is corruption in politics, and there always has been. Today we’re going to look at the most corrupt politicians in US History.

Richard Nixon. History Channel

Richard Nixon, President of the United States (R)

We start with the man who actually had to leave office in order to prevent himself from going to jail. He remains the only US President to ever resign from office, and his name has become synonymous with corruption in the White House.

The year 1972 was not a good year to be Richard Nixon. Prior to that, his presidency was shaping up to be one for the history books. If the President of the United States is to be given credit for the things that happen during his term in office, then Nixon ended the war in Vietnam, enforced desegregation in the South, signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the USSR, established the EPA, and over saw the moon landing in 1969. For any president to have those things happen while he’s in office would almost make a sterling legacy a sure thing. It’s no wonder that he was re-elected in 1972 in one of the most lopsided victories in US Presidential history.


But 1973 changed everything for Nixon. The economy sank, mostly due to an Arab oil embargo and gasoline rationing, and then there was the scandal. The Watergate scandal may be the most well-known scandal in the history of American politics.

So what is Watergate? Basically is surrounds a plot by the Nixon Administration and leading Republicans to spy on and discredit their Democratic rivals. They did this through so-called “dirty tricks,” like planting listening devices in the offices of their opponents, the harassment of activist groups that did not align with their political point of view, and other illicit activities.

The whole thing came down in June of 1972, when five men were caught breaking into the Watergate office complex where the Democrats had their party headquarters. By July of the next year, it was plainly obvious that not only did Nixon know about the things that were going on, but he was actively trying to cover them up. Through a series of leaks and incredible journalism, Nixon’s entire house of cards came crashing down around him. 48 people were eventually convicted of wrongdoing surrounding the Watergate scandal.

New York Times

Nixon was forced to resign the Presidency on August 9, 1974, after two years of constant investigation. In his resignation speech he said: “In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the Nation. Throughout the long and difficult period of Watergate, I have felt it was my duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of office to which you elected me. In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort…Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.”

Nixon will likely only ever be remembered for how he left office and the two years preceding his resignation.


  • Thomas J. Gray

    Matthew Weber, Nixon did NOT “end the war in Vietnam.” The Vietnam War was ended more by the Case-Church Amendment, which was approved by the U.S. Congress in June 1973 and which prohibited further U.S. military activity in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia unless the president secured Congressional approval in advance.

    Basically, Congress pulled the plug on Vietnam by refusing to fund the war.

    • Matthew Weber

      If you read the part of the sentence before the part you complain about, you’ll see this

      “If the President of the United States is to be given credit for the things that happen during his term in office”

      This isn’t odd. President’s do very little in terms of law and economics for the country, yet they get the credit and the blame.

      • DWB21317

        Matthew Weber, you did a goof job coming up with these six. Reading the responses, it’s clear that a six person list was too short for many readers, and that extremists to the left and the right won’t like anything you write here no matter what. I might have re-ordered the list, if you were listing them worst to least, by putting Long or Tweed on top, and at first I thought I would have replaced Blanton with Harding, but like you said about Grant, Harding had it happen all around him, but didn’t participate, so I can’t argue with the list much. As for all the hateful responses, welcome to the internet. Duck and cover. (From a former Republican, who considers himself a right of center Independent.)

        • Matthew Weber

          Yeah, I probably should have made it a bit longer, but after six I realized that I could just keep going and going.

          Thank you for the great comment. It’s nice to see something so kind on the Internet these days.

  • Chrisput

    Where are Slick Willie and Mayor(s) Dailey? You can tell who wrote this. Oh and Andrew Jackson was a Democrat.

    • Matthew Weber

      I don’t see anywhere in the Andrew Jackson section that says is party at all, I thought I’d made a mistake and checked. He was a member of the Democratic-Republican party prior to 1828.

      As for the others you mentioned, I didn’t include every corrupt politician, that’d make the article too long and impossible to write.

      As for the “You can tell who wrote this,” I don’t even know what that means. There were 4 democrats on this list and two republicans. I didn’t really take party affiliation into account when deciding who to put on the list, I only included them at all because I had to. I’m a democrat, BTW.

      • KeithE4Phx

        I wonder how much Jackson was influenced by Martin Van Buren, his 1st-term Secretary of State, 2nd-term VP, and successor as President.

        Van Buren was a crook who entrenched the spoils system while Governor of NY, and had been a founder of the Albany Regency, the political machine which also had ties to Tammany Hall.

        • Paul Griggs

          VAn Buren was heartily disliked but wasn’t appreciably corrupt.

      • Yo getta Yob

        Andrew Jackson is known as the Father of the Democratic party. He was a loathsome degenerate backstabbing traiterous scoundrel. Do the research.

        • sandormatyo

          Practically all racists of the 19th and 20th centuries belonged to what was referred to as the Democratic Party. All of that changed following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 under President Lyndon Johnson, (D-Tex). In the Presidential Elections of 1952, 1956 and 1960 the Democrats carried the great majority of southern states. In 1968 the Dems’ only southern state victory was in Texas. Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” shifted conservative Democrats to the Republican party and liberal Republicans to the Democratic Party.

        • Brian D. Gray

          wrong..Thomas Jefferson is regarded as the father of the Democratic party…

      • Chrisput

        I have seen Jackson defined as a Democrat. The fact that you left off the Dailey machine from this list and you are a self-admitted democrat, tells me that you would only look in certain places. Ray Blanton was a Southern Democrat and convicted. The Clintons and Dailey got away with it. That is the only difference.

        • Heat Rocc

          Half the people on this list were Democrats. How is that biased? But the truth is that trying to compare the political parties of today with those of 200, 150, and 100 years age is foolish and naive. Even less than 60 years ago the parties were very different.

  • melvin boyce

    both clintons and obama and don’t forget the fortune someone made selling bomb casings to the american war machine to drop over Vietnam after the lie to start a war in the first place. So much corruption. Nixon was a saint compared to them.

    • THEFred

      Nixon was a saint compared to no one. Climb back into your fake news bubble. Trump is already the most corrupt politician in U.S. history.

      • Watson Forrest

        Another libturd slithers out of “it’s” hole.

  • Paul Griggs

    GRAnt doesnt belong in this crowd. Dailey from Chicago was the worst.

  • Michael O’Connor

    Where is Warren Harding? How about Lyndon Johnson?

  • Francis Salvatore Torchio

    Don’t forget Frank Hague, Mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey. His name is synonymous with corruption.

  • gregwallace67

    E.H. Crump

  • Pat James

    Why is every corrupt politician from the opposing party not on the list?!? You’re only attacking the party that I ascribe to! You’ve given my opposing party too much credit! Clearly you’re a demopublitarian!

  • Chuck

    Reagan should be on this list.

  • glenn398

    What Nixon did is child’s play compared to what goes on today.

  • don

    Giant’s biggest failing was who he trusted. He never enriched himself and without his memoirs, would have died penniless.

  • Amy Wilson

    Does anyone remember Andrew Johnson?

    • Navy VeteranCPO

      Oh yeah. One of two presidents to be impeached. The other? The Democrats love boy; Bill Clinton.

  • michaelcannon

    Bill and Hillary Clinton, Obama, Bloomberg, Jerry Brown.

  • Stephen Crews Wylder

    If U.S. Grant, who was personally honest, but presided over a corrupt administration, where is Warren Gamaliel Harding? Even though he died before the end of his single term, his appointees, especially Interior Secretary Albert Fall, were big beneficiaries of the Teapot Dome scandal. “I have no trouble with my enemies,” said Harding. “I can take care of my enemies all right. But my damn friends… They’re the ones that keep me walking the floor nights!”

  • Navy VeteranCPO

    LOL!! Fast and Furious? Benghazi? IRS going after conservatives? Loretta Lynch? Eric Holder? Unless you’ve redefined the term scandal, there’s four off the top of my head..