5 Famous Political Scandals Involving Latinos

The woman at the center of the Arnold Schwarzenegger nightmare, Mildred “Patty” Baena, isn’t the first Latino to be involved in a political scandal. Take a look at 5 infamous moments in American politics.

1. Political Scandals: Antonio Villaraigosa

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Cheating Scandal
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who famously changed his last name from Villar to Villaraigosa when he married Corina Raigosa (to incorporate his wife’s surname), was caught in a cheating scandal that almost ended his career. In 2007, Corina filed for divorce in an LA courthouse citing irreconcilable differences. Villaraigosa acknowledged less than a month later that he was having a relationship with television reporter, Mirthala Salinas, who had covered his time in office extensively for Telemundo. The New Yorker magazine published a report shortly before the divorce painting the mayor as an egotistical womanizer whose actions infuriated those who helped him attain his political success. His 2009 reelection was a hard fought battle but he managed to eek out a victory with just over 55% of the vote.

2. Political Scandals: Meg Whitman

Meg Whitman Hires Undocumented Housekeeper
Nicky Diaz Santillan effectively ended former EBay CEO Meg Whitman’s California gubernatorial campaign when she hired superstar attorney Gloria Allred and claimed that Whitman was an abusive boss. Santillan worked for Whitman for 9 years and claimed through tears, during a press conference, that working for Whitman was a "nightmare” and that her former boss "exploited, disrespected, humiliated and emotionally and financially abused" her. But the clincher was when Santillan said Whitman knew she was undocumented. They openly discussed her inability to travel back to Mexico, but Whitman chose a "don't ask, don't tell" policy since she was getting cheap labor from Santillan. Whitman lost the California governorship.

3. Political Scandals: Mark Sanford

Gov. Sanford & his Argentine Mistress Maria Belen Shapur
After mysteriously disappearing from June 18 until June 24, 2009 while acting governor of South Carolina, Sanford’s wife, Jenny, told the Associated Press that she didn’t know where her husband was. When the Governor eventually returned, he admitted to an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina. In a news conference upon his return, Sanford said, “I hurt a lot of different folks,” apologizing to his wife and four sons, but he refused to resign. The next day, Argentine newspaper La Nación identified the mistress as María Belén Chapur, a 43-year-old divorced mother of two who said the affair was “simply a matter of love.” Sanford and Chapur are still together and the Governor served out his term until 2011.

4. Political Scandals: Bill Richardson

Bill Richardson's Pay-to-Play Scandal
After the 2008 election, Bill Richardson was riding high, on the shortlist for a number of high-ranking positions in President Barak Obama’s cabinet. He eventually won an appointment as Commerce Secretary but it all came crashing down in just three short months, when the New Mexico Governor’s office was rocked by scandal and he was forced to resign from the cabinet-level position. A federal investigation into an alleged pay-to-play scheme involving Richardson’s political action committee, Moving America Forward, was at the heart of his shocking (and incredibly fast) decline in approval ratings in his home state. He was also accused of giving wealthy state contracts to his political allies. Eventually, federal prosecutors dropped the investigation against the governor, but his political reputation was permanently tarnished.

5. Political Scandals: Bush Family

The Florida Bush Family
The Former Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, is often tossed around as a possible GOP Presidental candidate but the scandals surrounding the women of his family, Mexican wife Columba and daughter Noelle, may keep him from the highest office in the land. While wife Columba’s infraction was minor—she was fined by customs officials when she tried to bring in $19,000 worth of undeclared goods from her trip to France in 1999—Noelle Bush’s trouble with drugs was much more serious. As her uncle, President George W. Bush, was preparing for his first State of the Union, Noelle was being arrest for trying to illegally obtain a prescription for Xanex. Sadly, her troubles didn’t end there and she ended up going to jail for possessing drugs while in court ordered rehab.

6. Political Scandals: Related Links