El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, Colorado
Terry Maketa chases bad guys—when this bad boy isn’t chasing skirts, that is. After the married politician was accused of having sexual relationships with several women on his staff—including one he elevated to oversee the sheriff’s office budget and another who was promoted despite the fact that her major credential was being a nude model—the county commissioners unanimously passed a vote of no confidence. But the term-limited Maketa decided the sheriff’s office ethics policies didn’t apply to him. He wanted to override the nominations of worthy deputies in order to award the office’s One Hundred Club prize—essentially an employee-of-the-year honor, complete with gold watch—to himself. And he doesn’t plan to write any resignation letter, maybe because he’s too busy writing messages like this one, sent to one of his female colleagues: “I think often about touching kissing and licking every inch of your amazing body.”
When three of his commanders filed a complaint against Maketa in May that included reports of sexual harassment and accused him of running a hostile workplace, they were put on administrative leave. And Maketa initially denied the allegations: “I have never had an inappropriate sexual relationship with the three individuals you named,” he told the Colorado Springs Gazette, which broke the story. “If you publish anything to the contrary, I am fully prepared to take legal action.” But a week later, Maketa took another kind of action entirely, releasing a video apologizing to employees and admitting he’d “engaged in inappropriate behavior in the past.” (Patricia Calhoun, Westword)
Kentucky state Rep. Jim Gooch
While serving in the Kentucky General Assembly for the past two decades, Jim Gooch has made a name for himself as the state’s number one climate-change denier. Gooch—as chair of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee—once held a hearing to get to the bottom of this so-called global warming kerfuffle; the hearing featured only two witnesses who were climate-change deniers but not scientists. He explained he didn’t want any scientists to testify because “you can only hear that the sky is falling so many times.”
Gooch has accused the scientific community of engaging in a massive coverup and fraud to perpetuate the “hoax” of global warming and has even suggested that Kentucky secede from the union to avoid EPA rules. He also sponsored a bill this year to openly discriminate against utility companies that seek to switch from coal to natural gas. Gooch happens to own a company that primarily sells mining equipment to coal companies.
This year, he also made a name for himself as being quite the ladies’ man. He interrupted and blocked a vote to recognize the courage of two legislative staffers who stepped forward to accuse a legislator of rampant sexual harassment. Following that spectacle, the same staffers accused Gooch of inappropriate behavior, including throwing a pair of pink panties onto their table at a conference and saying, “I’m looking for the lady who lost these.” Gooch excused himself by saying that a woman had slipped the panties into his pocket moments earlier and that “actually they weren’t pink; I think they may have been beige.” (Joe Sonka, LEO Weekly)
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, Arizona
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is trying hard to climb out of a political hole he dug for himself in 2012, when his Mexican ex-lover accused the border hawk and congressional candidate of threatening him with deportation.
This March, Babeu was on a gun-loving national radio show (one of many such appearances) talking about how “we gotta continue to stand up for our Second Amendment rights, our liberties and freedoms.” A Fox News darling before the scandal, he wants back into the national spotlight—and he wants it bad.
The Massachusetts transplant became a rising star in the national Republican Party after capitalizing on—and exaggerating—violence along the Mexican border. He also blasted President Obama and his administration, which got him plenty of airtime on Fox.
The juice was enough to encourage Babeu to leap from sheriff and make a bid for a seat in Arizona’s family-values-centric Fourth Congressional District, whose denizens were unlikely to take kindly to a gay politician. Except Babeu, at the time, wasn’t openly gay. This changed when his former boyfriend, Jose Orozco, a Mexican national, sent the Tea Party sheriff reeling with concern that Orozco would expose his sexual orientation. If the undocumented Orozco said a word, the ex claimed, Babeu threatened to have him kicked out of the country.
The situation was ironic and hypocritical. Here was a right-wing politician who blustered about keeping Mexicans on their side of the border who had dated his constituents’ enemy. Oh, in addition, the congressional candidate posted half-naked photos of himself on a hook-up site for gay men (and included the length of his penis), which Orozco made public.
Babeu had to drop out of the congressional race, naturally. But that was two years ago. He hopes Arizona voters have a short memory. (Monica Alonzo, Phoenix New Times)
U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, South Carolina
Until June 2009, Mark Sanford was little more than a buffoon in C Street slacks and a sensible libertarian sports jacket from the clearance rack at Kohl’s. During his first term as governor of South Carolina and most of his second, there were laughs aplenty. He took two piglets into the statehouse to protest earmarks. One was named Pork, the other Barrel, and one, if not both, promptly shat on the floor during Sanford’s important presser.
Then there was the time when the state legislature overrode, or nearly overrode, all of his vetoes. We’re not sure if that was in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 or 2009 because it seemed to happen every year. And then there was Sanford’s general weirdness. When he was a child, his well-to-do family slept in the same room during the summer to conserve electricity, and when his father died, guess who made the coffin—Mark. During his gubernatorial years, Sanford liked to dig holes with a hydraulic excavator back at his country farm in order to relax—unfortunately, a child fell into one of those holes and died.
But then came some real creepiness. It began when Sanford apparently told his staff he was taking off to hike the Appalachian Trail, but instead he flew to Argentina on the taxpayer’s dime to be with his mistress. Upon his return home, the Luv Guv gave a strangely honest but extremely uncomfortable confession on live television. Much to everyone’s surprise, the Bible-beating members of the South Carolina Statehouse didn’t demand his immediate resignation—and this was even after they had read his erotic poetry. Shortly after Sanford’s affair became public, his wife Jenny divorced him and wrote a tell-all book (the governor once gave her a piece of paper for her birthday featuring a drawing of half of a bicycle, and the next year he gave her a drawing with the other half, along with a $25 used bike). Jenny also filed a complaint with the court after Mark repeatedly trespassed on her property; he even hung out at her home during the Super Bowl when she wasn’t there.
And get this, he flew airplanes at their two sons. Yes, you read that correctly—he flew airplanes at his children, whatever that means, according to the divorce settlement. But despite all of that—the cheating, the lying, the stalking and the childhood terrorizing—Sanford ran for his old U.S. House seat and won. Now he can take his mistress out to eat in D.C. without meeting the disapproving eyes of his constituents back home in Charleston. (Chris Haire, Charleston City Paper)
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, Tennessee
No one should be robbed of the joy of discovering an artist’s early, lesser-known work. So if you don’t know the pre-2012 past of Republican Scott DesJarlais—whom Esquire’s indubitable political blogger Charles P. Pierce dubbed a “baldheaded bag of douche from Tennessee”—allow us to loop you in.
In 2010, when the then-unknown Dr. DesJarlais was challenging incumbent Democratic Congressman Lincoln Davis in Tennessee’s Fourth District, things got ugly. That was because some papers from DesJarlais’ divorce nearly ten years earlier made their way into the public eye. The good doctor’s ex-wife claimed his behavior had become “violent and threatening.” She accused him of dry-firing a gun outside her bedroom and putting a gun in his mouth for three hours. DesJarlais cast the revelations as the desperate “gutter campaign” of a losing candidate.
But that gutter proved to be a veritable Mariana Trench. Two years later, DesJarlais, who by then had become an incumbent, found himself in trouble again when more information surfaced from the same bitter divorce. This time it was revealed that the “pro-life, pro-family values” Republican had pressured a mistress—who was also a patient of his—to get an abortion. He would later explain that, actually, he had pushed for her to get an abortion as part of a ruse to expose the fact that her pregnancy was a lie.
Brilliant! There was more: dalliances with six women—two patients, three co-workers, and a drug rep—and a confession that he had supported his ex-wife’s decision to get two abortions before they were married. By the grace of Tennessee voters, he was re-elected. By the grace of God, that will be corrected this fall. (Steven Hale, Nashville Scene)
Former Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, Washington
Aaron Reardon was the golden boy, the rising star of the Democratic Party in Washington state. Brash and cocky as a rooster, sure, but someday, most political observers agreed, he would sit in the governor’s mansion.
When he was sworn into office in 2004, Reardon was the youngest county executive in the nation. His fall from grace began a couple of years ago when a very tan bodybuilder named Tamara—also a county social worker—came forward to reveal her long affair with Reardon, a married man with two young children. There were junkets, most of them put on the county’s credit card, and even an intimacy kit containing condoms and lubricants purchased during one of their trysts at a boutique hotel in Washington, D.C.
In Chicago, he skipped out on the Democratic Leadership Council conference by faking a headache and then hailed a taxi to have dinner and drinks with Tamara. Reardon weathered scandal after scandal—the out-of-control drunkard of a planning director he hired who groped a building-industry lobbyist on a golf course, allegations of using county resources for his campaign, a Washington State Patrol investigation into his travel.
Then came the final straw, which smacked of Nixonian politics: One of his staffers concocted a phony name and made public-records requests of county employees who had spoken to police about Reardon’s involvement with Tamara. His staff was also tied to web pages that attacked Reardon’s political opponents. Reardon resigned last year and called for an independent investigation into “false and scurrilous accusations.” He is said to be living in exile somewhere in Arizona. (Ellis E. Conklin, Seattle Weekly)