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Private affairs tarnish public offices

One of the banes of holding a high office in government is the constant public scrutiny and the politically fatal blow that can be struck even by a straw. Men and women elected to important and lucrative offices always remain on the radar and their activities, however secretive and private, tend to come out in the open someday, causing agony to a great many- the worst sufferers are members of their families.

The Len Brown affair was not the first for a politician; neither will it be the last.

The world has witnessed from time to time, elected leaders transgressing into sexual affairs, either with someone at their work place or in the community. Some of them have been even caught ‘sleeping with the enemy.’

Although now forgotten, the ‘Profumo’ affair that rocked British politics in 1963, leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was described as “a scandal of a different order to all the rest.” John Profumo, the Conservative Secretary of State for War started an affair with Christine Keeler, who was alleged to have been involved with several men, including a Russian, who was believed to be a KGB Agent. When the scandal broke, it was the most shocking revelation imaginable.

It also changed the way the media covered political sex scandals, and shattered the illusion of politicians being bastions of integrity. The affair destroyed a Government.

Moshe Katsav, who was President of Israel from 2000 to 2007, faced allegations of sexual harassment by his staff and the rape of a subordinate. He fought a long legal battle and on December 7, 2011, began a seven-year prison sentence, after the Supreme Court of Israel upheld the verdict of a lower court.

One of the most widely publicised and debated sex scandals involved Bill Clinton (during his second term as the US President) and Monica Lewinsky, a White House Intern. The news of the extramarital affair and the resulting investigation eventually led to his impeachment by the US House of Representatives in 1998 (second such in US history). However, he was acquitted on all impeachment charges of perjury and obstruction of justice by the US Senate following 21 days of trial.

When Mark Sanford, the Republican Governor of South Carolina was caught for having an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina in 2009, there were cries for his ouster. Writing in New York Times, Pamela Druckerman, author of ‘Lust in Transition’ offered the following advice: 1. Don’t break any laws 2. Be a nice guy 3. Remember, it is not the sex; it is the lying 4.Patholise the problem 5. Say it was an accident 6. Get your wife on board

“American sex scandals, even the really tawdry ones, are not necessarily career killers,” she said.

Mr Sanford lost his job as Governor but was elected as the US Representative for South Carolina’s First Congressional District at a Special Election on May 7, 2013. He is stated to be engaged to the Argentinian woman.

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