The 10 Biggest Scandals Of American History

America is known for being a country with a rich history. Along with all of the fantastic things that have happened here, there have also been some scandals that have rocked the nation.

From Watergate to Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, these scandals have made headlines worldwide. In this article, we will look at 10 of the biggest scandals in American history.

Greatest American Scandals

Here is our list of the top 10 scandals:

The Watergate Scandal

The Watergate Scandal was a major political scandal in the United States during the early 1970s. The scandal involved members of the Nixon administration’s campaign team burglarizing the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to gain an advantage in the 1972 presidential election.

The scandal eventually led to the impeachment and resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.


On June 17, 1972, the Watergate Scandal began when five men were caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. The men were arrested and charged with burglary and attempted bugging. The five men were later connected to the Nixon administration’s reelection campaign.

The scandal escalated when it was revealed that the Nixon administration had been involved in an attempt to cover up the break-in. Further investigation uncovered a web of corruption and abuses of power by members of Nixon’s administration.


The scandal ultimately led to the impeachment of President Nixon in 1974. He resigned from office before the House of Representatives could impeach him. Vice President Gerald Ford became president and pardoned Nixon for his role in the scandal.

The Watergate Scandal had a lasting impact on American politics.

  • It led to reforms in campaign finance and the creation of the independent Watergate Special Prosecutor’s office.
  • The scandal also damaged the reputation of the Nixon administration and helped lead to the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Iran Contra Scandal

The Iran-Contra Affair was a scandal in the United States during the late 1980s.

It involved the sale of arms to Iran by American officials and the use of the proceeds from those sales to fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

How It Began

The scandal came to light in 1986 and ultimately led to the resignation of President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor, John Poindexter, and the indictment of several other officials.

The origins of the Iran-Contra Affair can be traced back to the early 1980s when the administration of President Ronald Reagan began arming the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

The Contras were a right-wing paramilitary group that was fighting against the socialist government of Nicaragua.

At the same time, the Reagan administration was also seeking to establish better relations with Iran, which was then led by the moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani.

In 1982, the U.S. officials decided to sell arms to Iran to secure the release of American hostages who Iranian-backed terrorists were holding in Lebanon.


The sale of arms to Iran quickly became embroiled in controversy, as it appeared that the Reagan administration was essentially trading weapons for hostages.

The scandal came to a head in 1986 when it was revealed the proceeds from the arms sales were diverted to Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

This led to the resignation of John Poindexter and the indictment of several other officials. Although the Iran-Contra Affair ultimately damaged Reagan’s presidency, it did not result in his impeachment or removal from office.

Bill Clinton And Monica Lewinsky

Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky was one of the biggest scandals of his presidency.

  • This affair came to light in 1998 and led to Clinton being impeached by the House of Representatives.
  • However, he was ultimately acquitted by the Senate and remained in office.

Iraq War (2003)

The Bush administration also had its fair share of scandals, and one of the biggest was the Iraq War, which began in 2003.

This war was highly controversial from the start and led to a lot of criticism of the Bush administration.

The Teapot Dome Scandal

The Teapot Dome Scandal was a bribery and political corruption scandal that rocked the United States government in the early 1920s.

The scandal involved the Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall, who leased federal oil reserves at Teapot Dome in Wyoming to private oil companies without competitive bidding. Fall received large bribes from the oil companies in return for the leases.


The scandal came to light after a Senate investigation in 1924, and Fall was ultimately convicted of accepting bribes.

  • The Teapot Dome Scandal was a significant factor in the defeat of President Warren Harding’s Republican Party in the 1924 presidential election.
  • The scandal also damaged the oil industry’s reputation, which had been seen as a pillar of American business.
  • The Teapot Dome Scandal was a significant factor in the passage of new laws and regulations designed to prevent corruption in the federal government.

Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme

Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme was one of the largest in history. He was able to convince investors that he could generate high returns with little risk when he was using funds from new investors to pay off old ones.

The scheme collapsed in 2008, resulting in billions of dollars in losses for investors.

How It Happened

Madoff convinced investors of his scheme by creating false documents and using complex financial jargon. He also used his position as a well-connected figure in the financial world to gain trust. Many people who invested with Madoff were wealthy individuals, celebrities, and charities.

The scheme began to unravel in 2008 when Madoff’s sons told authorities that their father had been running a Ponzi scheme, and Madoff was arrested and sentenced to 150 years in prison.


The collapse of Madoff’s scheme resulted in billions of dollars in losses for investors, charities, and businesses. It also increased the financial industry’s scrutiny, which was already reeling from the subprime mortgage crisis.

  • Madoff’s scheme reminds the importance of due diligence when investing.
  • It is also a reminder of the potential for financial crimes to have a devastating impact on innocent people.

Enron Scandal

The Enron scandal was a massive financial scandal in the early 2000s. A lot of people lost a lot of money because of what happened. It all started when Enron, an energy company based in Texas, began to experience financial difficulties.

How It Happened

The company had been overstating its profits for years, and it eventually became clear that it was in severe financial trouble.

Enron’s top executives, including CEO Jeffrey Skilling and CFO Andrew Fastow, tried to keep the company’s problems hidden from shareholders and the public.

They did this by creating off-the-books entities that they used to hide Enron’s debt. This allowed Enron to continue presenting itself as a profitable company despite losing money.

The Enron scandal came to light in 2001 when the company’s stock price began to plummet.


This led to an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which uncovered the fraud taking place. Enron filed for bankruptcy in December 2001, and its collapse cost investors billions of dollars.

  • The Enron scandal was a significant blow to the reputation of American businesses, and it led to new laws and regulations that were designed to prevent similar scandals in the future.
  • It also resulted in the imprisonment of several Enron executives, including Jeffrey Skilling and Andrew Fastow.

The Black Sox Scandal (1919)

The Black Sox scandal was a Major League Baseball game-fixing conspiracy involving eight players and the Chicago White Sox team members.

The players were accused of intentionally losing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for money from a gambling syndicate led by Arnold Rothstein.

What Happened

The scandal came to light after publishing a September 1920 article in the Chicago Daily News, which reported that some White Sox players might have been paid to throw the Series.

An investigation confirmed that many of the accused players did indeed accept money from the syndicate in exchange for intentionally losing the Series. Despite this evidence, all eight players were acquitted of wrongdoing in a 1921 trial.

How It Ended

Nevertheless, baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis permanently banned all eight men from Major League Baseball.

  • The Black Sox scandal remains one of the most infamous incidents in baseball history, and its impact was felt for many years after it occurred.
  • The scandal also led to the establishment of the Commissioner of Baseball, the office which now oversees all aspects of the game.

College Admission Scandal

The college admission scandal is a recent scandal involving wealthy parents who allegedly bribed college officials to get their children into elite colleges.

The scandal came to light in March 2019, when federal prosecutors charged 50 people in connection with the scheme.

How It Started

The parents were accused of paying an admissions consultant, William “Rick” Singer, to help their children gain college admission by cheating on college entrance exams or bribing college officials.

The scandal has led to widespread public outcry and has prompted investigations by the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the U.S. House of Representatives. Several colleges and universities have also launched their internal investigations.

How It Ended

As of May 2019, 33 parents have been charged with the scandal. Among them are actress Felicity Huffman and businessman Gordon Caplan, and both Huffman and Caplan have pleaded guilty to fraud charges.

  • The scandal has shed light on the often secretive world of college admissions and has prompted calls for reform.
  • It has also raised questions about the role of wealth in American society and the extent to which wealthy parents will go to help their children succeed.

Savings And Loan Crisis

The savings and loan crisis was a financial crisis that occurred in the United States in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The situation was caused by several factors, including deregulation, risky investments, and corruption.

As a result of the crisis, many savings and loan associations failed, and the federal government spent billions of dollars bailing out the industry.

How It Started

The savings and loan crisis began in the late 1970s when the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to combat inflation. This led to higher mortgage rates, making it more difficult for people to afford their homes.

At the same time, many banks began deregulating their lending practices, making it easier for people to get loans without putting down a sizeable down payment.

This combination of factors led to a sharp increase in the number of people defaulting on their mortgages, and many banks were forced to foreclose on homes.

The crisis worsened in the early 1980s when oil prices fell sharply. This caused a recession, which led to even more defaults and foreclosures. By the middle of the decade, the savings and loan industry was in trouble.

The federal government began deregulating the industry even further to prop up the industry. This made it easier for savings and loan associations to make risky investments, such as junk bonds and real estate ventures.


The deregulation of the savings and loan industry led to widespread corruption, as many association executives began using their institutions’ money to fund personal projects.

  • This ultimately led to the collapse of many associations, and the federal government was forced to step in and bail out the industry.
  • The bailout cost taxpayers billions of dollars, and it is widely considered one of the causes of the budget deficit that the United States has faced in recent years.


These are just a few of the biggest scandals in American history. Many others could be mentioned, but these are some of the most well-known. What do you think is the biggest scandal in American history?

Scandals seem to be a regular occurrence in American politics nowadays, with new ones popping up every few months. While some scandals may not be as well-known as others, they can still significantly impact those involved.

The scandals listed above are just a few of the many that have taken place in America over the years. With new technology and social media, we will likely see even more scandals in the future. Only time will tell what the next big scandal will be. Stay tuned!


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