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Speaker Jim Wright's Downfall – 1989

Feeding Frenzy On May 31, 1989, James C. Wright became the first Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives to resign from office because of scandal.

The unravelling of the Texas Democrat's 34-year congressional career began with a year-long House ethics committee investigation of his finances, which resulted in a finding that Wright might have violated House rules in 69 instances. The charges centered around $145,000 in possibly improper gifts Wright and his wife had received from a Fort Worth developer, and the profits from a collection of Wright's speeches that allegedly were sold in bulk in lieu of speaking fees that were limited by House rules.

Wright's personal scandal was supplemented by the May resignations of his chief aide (after a Washington Post interview with a woman brutally assaulted by the aide in 1973) and of House Democratic Whip Tony Coelho because of an unrelated financial controversy.


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© Copyright 1998 Larry J. Sabato

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