Political spouses behaving badly

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Though the nation has been focused more this week on politicians who behaved badly toward their spouses, a less-noticed story in Detroit presents the opposite problem — a powerful Congressman’s spouse who is in trouble for her own misbehavior.

This morning, Monica Conyers, wife of U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and herself president pro tem of the Detroit City Council, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery. She joins a rogue’s gallery of political spouses who have gotten into trouble over the years.

Some of our favorites:

  • Julie Doolittle, wife of U.S. Rep. John Doolittle of California, had her fundraising firm records seized in an FBI raid of their home, in connection with her alleged ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. It does not appear that any charges have been filed and the U.S. attorney’s office had no record of any criminal legal actions in this case; the FBI and Ms. Doolittle’s attorney were unavailable to provide us an update on the status of the investigation. Amidst the controversies, Congressman Doolittle opted not to seek re-election in 2008.
  • Joe Waldholtz, then-husband of one-term U.S. Rep. Enid Greene Waldholtz (later just Enid Greene) of Utah, who went to jail for tax evasion, check kiting, and embezzling almost $4 million from Greene’s father — much of which he used to finance her Congressional campaign. She left him, telling the press “I loved Joe Waldholtz and trusted him with all my heart. I now know from the events of the last four weeks that the person that I loved and trusted never existed.”
  • Edward Norton, then-husband of D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, acknowledged failure to pay District income taxes just days before her 1990 Democratic primary victory. She left him shortly after the revelations and said it was “a personal tragedy for my family, and it left personal scars.”
  • Wanda Baucus, then-wife of Senator Max Baucus of Montana, who was charged with assault in a garden store incident after she and another customer reportedly sparred while waiting to have their mulch bags loaded into their cars. Charges were dropped after she agreed to participate in a community-service-based diversion program for first-time offenders. At that time, Senator Baucus said “I stand by her 110 percent,” but five years later, the two divorced.

As for Congressman Conyers, he seems to be sticking by his wife for the moment. His office quickly released a statement saying “This has been a trying time for the Conyers family and with hope and prayer they will make it through as a family."

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