The Republican Excuse-O-Meter

This fall’s top five scandal-tinged congressmen and their “official” reasons for retiring.

Illustration: Gordon Studer

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Of the more than two dozen retiring members of Congress, some will be dearly missed (Godspeed, Chuck Hagel!), while others…not so much. Democrats are absent from our list not because they have a franchise on good behavior (we’re talking to you, “Dollar” Bill Jefferson), but because few are retiring this year and none of them are actually under indictment.

Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.)
Why: Under investigation in connection with the Jack Abramoff and Brent Wilkes scandal
In His Words: “I needed to not run again.”
About Time: His long history of blurring congressional and family business included paying his wife nearly $200,000 in fundraising commissions.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.)
Why: Passing the torch to Duncan Jr.
In His Words: As Hunter mounted a doomed campaign for the presidency, a spokesman announced, “Congressman Hunter does not intend to run for two offices simultaneously.”
About Time: With ties to Brent Wilkes and Duke Cunningham, Hunter has long been accused of swapping earmarks for campaign cash. Duncan Jr. seems poised to follow in his father’s footsteps, already receiving contributions from the beneficiaries of Hunter-sponsored earmarks.

Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.)
Why: 35 excellent reasons, according to his indictment
In His Words: No comment.
About Time: Fraud, conspiracy, money laundering, extortion…’nuff said.

Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.)
Why: Ask his Nicaraguan real estate agent.
In His Words: “I need to give my family the time needed to be a full-time dad and full-time husband.”
About Time: Accused of using his congressional clout for private profit, Weller masked the extent of his Central American land dealings.

Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.)
Why: Got caught
In His Words: “[I] need to concentrate on healing the wounds that I have caused to my wife and family.”
About Time: Before he was felled by a drunk driving and adultery scandal, Fossella had a rep for mixing business with pleasure, using campaign funds for things like ski lessons for his family.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate