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Top 10 Falls from Grace in Business and Politics

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Kelly MacDonald Sex, lies and insider trading… Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 falls from grace in business and politics. For this list, we looked at the business tycoons and political power-players that reached the greatest positions of authority in government, industry or finance. Held in the highest esteem, they threw it all away because of arrogance, greed and in some cases, pure lust. Scorned by the public and their peers, they were completely forced out of their positions – or, at the very least, judged in the court of public opinion. Special thanks to our user Kris A for submitting this idea through our Suggest Tool at WatchMojo.comSuggest
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Written by Kelly MacDonald

Top 10 Falls from Grace in Business and Politics


Sex, lies and insider trading… Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 falls from grace in business and politics.

For this list, we looked at the business tycoons and political power-players that reached the greatest positions of authority in government, industry or finance. Held in the highest esteem, they threw it all away because of arrogance, greed and in some cases, pure lust. Scorned by the public and their peers, they were completely forced out of their positions – or, at the very least, judged in the court of public opinion.

#10: Michael Milken

They called him “The Junk Bond King.” With an almost preternatural understanding of the stock market, Michael Milken made billions through creative investments in cheap high-yielding bonds. Then he got a little too creative! A poster-boy of 1980s money-lust and excess, Milken was indicted on fraud charges. Banned from the securities industry for life, he has since dedicated himself to philanthropic work and remains one of the richest men in the world. Turns out the “Junk Bond King” is also a “Comeback Kid.”

#9: Dominique Strauss-Kahn

As Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn caught heat when he had an affair with a subordinate. The IMF finally forced him to resign when he was accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid; and the case was settled in civil court. He’s now been connected to a prostitution ring and faces charges of aggravated pimping. DSK has managed to dodge the legal system thus far, but in the court of public opinion, it’s pretty clear that this guy’s a creep

#8: Ray Nagin

It takes one to know one. As mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin was celebrated for his aggressive fight against city corruption, which is funny because Ray Nagin was one of the dirtiest politicians around. Convicted on twenty counts of fraud, bribery and money laundering, Nagin took over half a million dollars worth of payouts in exchange for city contracts, even after New Orleans had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. In 2014, he was given a 10-year prison sentence. Guess the payouts didn’t pay-off.

#7: Jeffrey Skilling

Today, Enron is the iconic symbol of corporate greed, and Jeffrey Skilling is the face of Enron. Company founder, Kenneth Lay, hired Skilling to build up business. Instead, he built a house of cards. Debts were hidden, profits inflated. Once hailed one of the most innovative companies in America, Enron collapsed under the weight of its lies, resulting in the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. Though several execs were indicted, Skilling’s arrogance personified the nature of Enron’s crimes. Set for release in 2019, it's anyone’s guess what this guy will do next.

#6: Bernard Kerik

The Police Commissioner of New York City, Bernard Kerik was nominated by President George W. Bush for U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security in 2004. Unfortunately, he had to refuse the prestigious position because he’d employed an illegal immigrant… and he was a really crooked cop! One of the most decorated policemen in New York history, Kerik was later indicted on sixteen counts, including conspiracy and fraud. Released from custody in 2013, Kerik wants to repair the criminal justice system. Perhaps he should just try to repair his credibility

#5: Eliot Spitzer

While we could've chosen sexter Anthony Weiner, whose inappropriate online relationships with several women forced him to resign from Congress, it's this former New York Attorney General-turned-state-Governor and then “Client 9” that lands here! Spitzer built a successful career championing the little guy, but this ethical crusader had a secret penchant for hookers, spending tens of thousands of dollars on high-end escorts over a ten-year period. Facing impeachment, Spitzer resigned as Governor. Though his private predilections tarnished his political persona, Spitzer returned to public life, running for New York City Comptroller in 2013. He lost. People might forgive, they don’t forget.

#4: Andy Coulson

As editor of News of the World, he liked a juicy story, but when it came to allegations of illegal phone-hacking, Andy Coulson couldn’t quite keep his story straight. Coulson resigned from his editor position when his reporter was caught intercepting voicemails. Denying any knowledge of the crime, Coulson started work with PM David Cameron. But Coulson did know about the hacking. In fact, he’d encouraged it and was found guilty of conspiracy for phone-hacking. A perjurer, an eavesdropper, an embarrassment to Downing Street, Coulson was the tabloid journalist reduced to tabloid fodder.

#3: John Edwards

He was a self-made man with All-American good looks. He had a loving family with a heart-wrenching back-story. John Edwards was the Democrats’ darling and his eyes were set on the Oval Office. Then he had an affair and fathered a child with a campaign staffer, all while his wife battled stage IV cancer. Repeated lies and a sloppy cover-up only made matters worse. A cheat, a liar, and a dead-beat dad, Edwards was the ideal political candidate who became the worst kind of political cliché.

#2: Bernard Madoff

He was the non-executive chairman of the NASDAQ and a trusted financial advisor whose investment firm managed the savings of charities, millionaires and regular folk. All the while, Bernie Madoff was actually running the largest Ponzi scheme in American history. A corporate con artist, he defrauded thousands of people out of billions of dollars. In 2008, the scam imploded. Companies collapsed, life-savings were lost, and Madoff was exposed. Sentenced to 150 years in prison, Madoff’s fall from grace is more like a full-blown crash into infamy and disgrace.

Before we unveil our pick for number one, here are a few [dis]honorable mentions:

- Rob Ford

- Martha Stewart

- Dov Charney

- Marion Barry

- Anthony Weiner

#1: Richard Nixon

Watergate: the word synonymous with political corruption. In 1972, a burglary at Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office complex revealed a web of shady governmental operations that were eventually linked to the Nixon administration. Intimidation, harassment, spying and a little B and E seemed par for the course with this two-term president. Publicly shamed and facing possible indictment, Richard Nixon was the only president ever to resign from office. Though he wanted to be known for his political accomplishments, it’s his personal scheming that history remembers.

Do you agree with our list? What backhanded financial fraudsters or duplicitous political schemers have we missed? For more scandalously entertaining top tens published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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