10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals
10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals

10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals

Khalid Elhassan - June 12, 2018

10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals
Robert F. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, and Marilyn Monroe. TMZ

John F. Kennedy, His Brother Bobby, and Marilyn Monroe

As seen in a previous entry, John F. Kennedy was a sex addict who had extramarital affairs more frequently than many people go grocery shopping. However, of all of JFK’s numerous affairs, none would probably produce as great a scandal and media firestorm today as his affair with Marilyn Monroe. It would make the media circus surrounding Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, or Trump and Stormy Daniels, look tame.

Monroe caught Kennedy’s eye after she made a spectacular entrance at a New York dinner party held in his honor in early 1962. He was immediately attracted to her, and they hooked up in Palm Springs soon thereafter. However, she took it more seriously than he did, and did little to hide what was going on. Her sultry “Happy Birthday” performance for JFK during a fundraising event in Madison Square Garden – in the presence of his wife, no less – fueled the rumor machines.

Tongues wagged about the barely concealed affair between the president and the blond bombshell. However, JFK was lucky in that the media of his day was nothing like today’s. Nonetheless, the gossip caused Kennedy to back away from Monroe and end things – to him, she was just one among dozens of pretty (and discrete) women he had slept with. To Monroe, he was the only president she had slept with, and she was not about to give up that easy. She kept calling the White House, trying to rekindle the affair, until JFK sent somebody over to convince her that it was over and that she needed to stop.

The affair’s aftermath would have made for a spectacular scandal in of itself had it taken place today. After JFK was done with Marilyn, he basically passed her on to Robert F. Kennedy, his younger brother and the United States’ Attorney General. RFK’s image was that of a happily married and devoted husband, raising a large and steadily increasing family that would eventually number 11 children. He was viewed as the most family-oriented and straitlaced of the Kennedy brothers, so there would have been a jarring contrast between that public perception and an affair with the iconic sex symbol.

Marilyn’s unexpected death a few months later would have made things even more explosive. The coroner ruled Monroe’s 1962 death a probable suicide via barbiturates, but conspiracy theories abounded, alleging that JFK or RFK had been involved. The sudden death of a former mistress of the president, who then became the mistress of his brother, the Attorney General and the president’s right-hand man? That would have made for a nonstop media-feeding frenzy today.

10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals
Washington Times front page, re the Bush White House homosexual prostitution ring scandal. Veterans Today

A Gay Prostitution Ring Reached Into George H.W. Bush’s White House

The scandal of George H. W. Bush’s mistresses pales in comparison to the Bush White House’s gay prostitution ring scandal. The recent Pizzagate conspiracy theory, alleging that Hillary Clinton and high ranking Democrats ran a child prostitution ring in the basement of a Washington, DC, pizzeria (which had no basement) is pretty batsh*t. However, there was a time when a prostitution ring actually did reach into the White House – that of George H. W. Bush.

On June 29th, 1989, Washington’s conservative newspaper, The Washington Times, dropped a bombshell by running a story describing a gay prostitution ring that reached into Bush Senior’s White House. With a headline taking up the entire front page’s top, the Washington Times announced: “Homosexual Prostitution Inquiry Ensnares VIPS With Reagan, Bush: ‘Call Boys’ Took Tour of the White House“.

The details were just as salacious as the headline, describing a federal investigation into a gay prostitution ring whose clients included key officials of the Reagan and Bush administration, and US military officers. Some of the clients had the kind of access that enabled them to arrange 1 AM White House tours for their friends, including male prostitutes.

In a nutshell, during Bush’s time in office in the 1980s, both as vice president and as president, male and female prostitutes were routinely waltzing in and out of the White House. Even if Bush himself had not partaken – and the Washington Times dropped titillating hints that he actually might have – it is highly unlikely that he was unaware of what was going on. Especially considering that Bush had once headed the CIA.

Pentagon officials told the Times that, throughout the 1980s, military and civilian intelligence were worried that “a nest of homosexuals” high in the Reagan and Bush administrations might have been penetrated by Soviet agents. The concern was that young male prostitutes were being used to compromise high-ranking officials, and render them vulnerable to blackmail.

It was a huge story, and then… just like that, it disappeared. The US Attorney running the inquiry, who had initially cooperated with The Washington Times, suddenly clammed up, and the newspaper’s access to details about the inquiry dried up. The investigation was allowed to quietly gather dust before it was finally shelved, and just as quietly, dropped. It was an illustrative example of Washington, DC, effectively circling the wagons to snuff out a scandal that threatened to splatter dirt far and wide.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources & Further Reading

Cheat Sheet – Shocking Sex Scandals of Former US Presidents

Daily Beast, May 23rd, 2011 – Grover Cleveland’s Sex Scandal: The Most Despicable in American Political History

Guardian, The, January 22nd, 2018 – Why Lyndon Johnson, a Truly Awful Man, is My Political Hero

Monticello – Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemming: A Brief Account

Your Tango, November 21, 2013 – 11 Things You Didn’t Know About JFK’s Love Life

Politico, November 19th, 2013 – Sex in the Senate: Bobby Baker’s Salacious Secret History of Capitol Hill

Ranker – 16 Presidents You Never Knew Did Insanely Perverted Stuff

Rumpus, The, February 21st, 2011 – On This Presidents’ Day: A Brief History of Presidential Sex

Times, The, September 19th, 2004 – Mistress of Influence: Bush’s ‘Other Wife’

Washington Post, July 3rd, 2014 – The First Celebrity First Lady: Frances Cleveland

Wikimedia – Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston

History Collection – Scandals the US Founding Fathers Tried to Keep Secret

History Collection – 5 Political Scandals of the 1950s

History Channel – Historic Presidential Affairs That Never Made it To the Tabloids

History Collection – Terrible Facts about the American Founding Fathers that Didn’t Make it to the History Books

History Collection – Conspiracy Theories About Our Founding Fathers

Politico – America’s Horniest President