From Washington, D.C., to Miami to (gulp) Tennessee, here are the bottom feeders of public office 

America’s Worst Politicians

America’s Worst Politicians
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King George III was "a Tyrant ... unfit to be the ruler of a free people," Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence exactly 238 years ago this week.

Tommy had it right.

Ever since then, Americans have been calling out their leaders. "Tyrant" was just the start. We've moved on to crook (Nixon), liar (Clinton), and moron (Dubya). Whether or not you agree with the peanut gallery, there's no denying that written assaults on public honchos are as American as baseball, apple pie and iPhones.

So on this Independence Day, those closest to American politics — 50 writers and editors of the alternative press from across the land — have combined their collective genius. They've named some of the nation's worst elected leaders, then separated them into five categories: hatemongers, sleazeballs, blowhards, users and boozers, and horn dogs. And there's more than just the usual stodgy Washington losers. Check out Idaho Senate GOP leader John McGee, who stole and crashed an SUV, admitted to drinking too much, and went to jail. Upon returning to the statehouse, he was accused of groping a female staffer.

Want a little old-school corruption? Florida's governor, Rick Scott, who will be up for re-election soon, founded a health care empire that was whacked with the largest Medicare fraud fine in U.S. history: $1.7 billion for stealing from the feds. There's also Washington, D.C., council member Michael Brown, who once accepted $200,000 to stay out of an election and was later indicted after grabbing at a cash-stuffed duffel bag offered by an undercover FBI agent.

Of course, there are big names here too. South Carolina's "Luv Guv" Mark Sanford made the list. So did Texas' Green Eggs and Ham filibusterer Ted Cruz and Minnesota loon Michele Bachmann. Even pol wannabe Donald Trump snuck in a side door.

So before you head out for the fireworks or swig some American brew, consider this hall of shame. — Chuck Strouse, Miami New Times


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Horn Dog

Scott DesJarlais, U.S. representative

No one should be robbed of the joy of discovering an artist’s early, lesser-known work. So if you don’t know the pre-2012 past of Republican Scott DesJarlais — whom Esquire’s invaluable political blogger Charles P. Pierce dubbed a “baldheaded bag of douche from Tennessee” — allow us to loop you in.

In 2010, when the then-unknown Dr. DesJarlais, a physician, was challenging incumbent Democratic Congressman Lincoln Davis in Tennessee’s 4th District, things got ugly. That was because some papers from DesJarlais’ divorce nearly 10 years earlier made their way into the public eye. The good doctor’s ex-wife claimed his behavior had become “violent and threatening.” She accused him of dry-firing a gun outside her bedroom and putting a gun in his mouth for three hours. DesJarlais cast the revelations as the desperate “gutter campaign” of a losing candidate.

But that gutter proved to be a veritable Mariana Trench. Two years later, DesJarlais, who by then had become an incumbent, found himself in trouble again when more information surfaced from the same bitter divorce. This time it was revealed that the “pro-life, pro-family values” Republican had pressured a mistress — who was also a patient of his — to get an abortion. He would later explain that, actually, he had pushed for her to get an abortion as part of a ruse to expose the fact that her pregnancy was a lie.

Brilliant! There was more: dalliances with six women — two patients, three co-workers, and a drug rep — and a confession that he had supported his ex-wife’s decision to get two abortions before they were married. By the grace of Tennessee voters, he was re-elected. By the grace of God, that will be corrected this fall. — Steven Hale, Nashville Scene

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Stacey Campfield, state senator

The Wikipedia page for Knoxville Republican Stacey Campfield features sections summarizing his years in the Tennessee House and the Tennessee Senate, followed by a section titled “Other Controversies.” To understand Campfield is to understand he does not have legislative efforts tainted by some controversies on the side. There are his legislative efforts, and then there are other controversies. He is the controversy.

Campfield outbreaks are recalled by Tennessee political observers like old Friends reruns. There’s “The One Where Stacey Gets Thrown Out of Congressman Jimmy Duncan’s Annual Barbecue,” “The One With the Luchador Mask,” “The One Where Stacey Explains That AIDS Came From ‘One Guy Screwing a Monkey,’  ” and “The One Where Stacey Compares Obamacare to the Holocaust.” Viewers who watched those episodes also enjoyed the time Campfield proposed cutting payments to families if their children did poorly in school. But perhaps his legacy achievement — his middle name could be “As Mentioned on Colbert” — was the introduction of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that proposed banning any discussion of homosexuality in schools. In a more recent iteration, it effectively would have required teachers to out their students.

A full accounting of Campfield’s antics would run the length of The Goldfinch, but here’s one more: After reporters reprinted some of the wingnuttier comments he had posted publicly, he threatened to take legal action against media outlets that quoted his blog. After 10 years in the legislature, Campfield is being targeted by Republicans and Democrats alike this year. In an uncharacteristic move, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has even flirted with endorsing Campfield’s primary opponent. But caution might be in order. If he is struck down, might he become more powerful than we can possibly imagine? — Steven Hale, Nashville Scene

Read all about the rest of the worst at

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