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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Which party has more scandals?

Reading about the recent Bill de Blasio scandal in New York City reminded me of my vague impression that while Republicans are more likely to get into sex scandals, Democrats are more likely to try to use their office for illicit financial gain.

If you look at this list of federal officials who've been convicted of corruption, and look at the convictions since 1970, which we can roughly define as the modern era, the score is 23 Democrats vs. 8 Republicans.

But if you look at this list of federal political scandals, the picture becomes murkier. Most scandals don't result in outright convictions, even when there was obvious corruption or at least dishonesty involved. For instance, the current administration has had the Fast and Furious scandal, the IRS scandal, the Benghazi scandal, the Veterans Administration scandal -- all of which are proof that stonewalling works. When events like these occur, a few lower level scapegoats may lose their jobs, but the big fish usually escape.

Of course, what some consider scandals others don't. One side's scandal is the other's "politically-motivated witch hunt."

Plus, if you cross reference the two lists linked above, the first list appears incomplete. And both lists are of federal officials, not the far more numerous state and municipal officials. In any case, I'll retain my vague impression that Democrats are more corrupt -- though I can't back that up with a satisfyingly well-defined set of statistics.

If you look at this list of sex scandals involving federal officials, you run into the same problem of murkiness. How do you define a sex scandal? Some are relatively innocuous, involving garden variety adultery. Some involve sexual harassment. Some involve having sex with an employee, often an intern. Some involve putting paramours on the federal payroll. Some involve homosexuality. Some involve physical abuse. Some produced illegitimate children. Some involve prostitution. Some become larger scandals because they were lied about at first. And some involve several of the elements listed above.

So, where do you draw the line as to what constitutes a sex scandal?

Again, as with corruption scandals, it's hard to define exactly which should be counted and which shouldn't. And, as with the corruption scandals, you get the sense that what comes to light is the extremely tiny tip of the iceberg anyway.

But, counting from the list linked above, and using all of the scandals since 1970, the score is 22 Democrats, vs. 32 Republicans. So, I'll retain my vague impression that Republicans are more likely to get into trouble because of sex.

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