The Most High-Profile Scandals Involving Democrats So Far This Year

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) (L) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) / Getty
July 27, 2017

Nearly seven full months into 2017, the Democratic Party has had its own share of scandals unfold this year.

Several high-profile Democrats, including current lawmakers, have had to answer tough questions in recent months regarding legal issues, some of which have led to felony convictions.

Here are the most high-profile scandals involving Democrats of the year to date:

Former Rep. Corrine Brown (D., Fla.)

The former Florida congresswoman was convicted in May of wire fraud and tax evasion for her actions involving a charity that she used to personally benefit herself. Brown was found guilty on 18 of 22 counts.

The One Door for Education, a Virginia-based sham foundation that Brown's supporters donated to, received more than $800,000 that was purportedly for giving out scholarships. Only $1,200 of that money went to charity, however. Brown, her chief of staff, and the foundation's president spent $200,000 of the group's money on NFL tickets, luxury vacations, plane tickets, car repairs, and lavish events. One FBI agent testified that Brown funneled money from the foundation to her personal bank account.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.)

The former Democratic National Committee chairwoman for months refused to fire information technology aide Imran Awan, who was arrested this week by law enforcement officials for bank fraud. Awan was apprehended at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, where he tried to leave the country for Pakistan after wiring $283,000 to that country. The Daily Caller News Foundation reported that Awan is a target of an FBI investigation.

Schultz fired her staffer after news of his arrest broke, but she kept him on her payroll for months despite knowing he was the subject of a criminal investigation. Awan was one of five House contractors under investigation for stealing equipment from members' offices, exposing House information online, and other, potentially illegal violations on the House IT network.

In May, Schultz threatened the Capitol Hill police chief for holding equipment from her office that was tied to the investigation.

Jane Sanders, wife of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.)

Jane Sanders, wife of former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, has been the subject of an FBI probe. The FBI is investigating allegations that Jane Sanders fraudulently obtained a bank loan for a land deal for the now defunct Burlington College in Vermont. She was president of the school from 2004 to 2011. The college closed down in 2016 after it was unable to pay off its debt and lost its accreditation.

Sanders has said the allegations are "baseless" and implied that they might be politically motivated.

Former Rep. Anthony Wiener (D., N.Y.)

The former Democratic congressman pleaded guilty to a felony back in May. Weiner, who has been involved in multiple sexting scandals, transferred obscene material, including sexually explicit photos and messages, to a minor. The investigation into Weiner's actions with a 15-year-old girl ended after he agreed to a plea agreement that will have him register as a sex offender and possibly go to prison.

The FBI probe into Weiner also caused problems for former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The FBI reopened its investigation into Clinton's private email server days before the 2016 election after the bureau discovered relevant documents while probing Weiner's case. Weiner is married to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, although she filed for divorce earlier this year.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.)

The New Jersey senator was indicted in April 2015 for allegedly accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations and improper gifts as bribes. The bribes, prosecutors said, were used to help his long-time friend and major campaign donor Dr. Salomon Melgen.

Two years later, Menendez is set to have his trial. A federal judge has scheduled the court date for Sept. 2017. The New Jersey senator has sought to have the charges thrown out but has been unsuccessful. He plans on appealing the case but the request has not been filed yet.

Melgen, an ophthalmologist, was found guilty on all counts in April after being accused of stealing up to $105 million from Medicare by giving patients unnecessary treatments and tests.