The Political Shame Map

Nov 25, 2014 at 11:57 AM ET

When millions of Americans went to the polls to participate in our most sacred civic duty this month, they weren’t just electing people to represent them in the halls of local, state and federal buildings. They were also electing people to represent them to the rest of the world. So when an elected official attacks an elderly couple after a wine tasting, sexually harasses more than a dozen women or comments on the first lady’s “large posterior,” both politician and constituent should feel the fiery sting of embarrassment.

But far too often, that sting isn’t painful enough to actually remove the public cyst from office. The 2014 midterms saw wins by several city councilman with DUIs, a state senator indicted for embezzling nearly half a million dollars and a U.S. representative dumb enough to use the slur “wetbacks” on the radio. Incumbency is a powerful sword.

To find out which state’s voters are consistently guilty of putting our black sheep back in office, we conducted an exhaustive search for America’s most embarrassing elected officials—from lowly local assemblymen all the way up to U.S. senators—then did a few maths. We cataloged everything from corruption convictions and DUI arrests to stupid tweets, outrageous public statements and familial idiocy, but we left the politics and policy out of it. To get the ball rolling, we consulted databases, governmental agencies and many, many news sources, going back two full election cycles to make sure our sample was deep enough to be representative. We included only those incidents covered by reputable websites, newspapers or TV stations, because if the media wasn’t there to report on a screwup, how could anyone be embarrassed? Naturally, that means this isn’t a comprehensive ranking of political corruption, but of scandal and stupidity big and small, where there was enough publicity for egg to meet face.

Of course, this is by no means a complete list, which is why we need your help. PLEASE USE THIS FORM TO SUBMIT YOUR FAVORITE CANDIDATES. We’ll add them to our database, and we’ll be refining the look and format of this index as it grows. Click around on the map to view America’s most embarrassing politicians by state, or use the buttons below to sort by offense category. The states in dark blue have elected the most shameful pols per 250,000 residents. We decided a ratio was only fair, because states with larger populations like New York, which actually has the most entries on our list (the sheer breadth is astonishing), shouldn’t be penalized simply for having the most residents and politicians.