11/25 Update: We originally posted this item on Aug. 20. We've updated it with the recent news that scandal-tarred Larry Craig joined the Idaho Republican Party as the financial chair of its executive committee.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) went on August ice cream runs, speaking with reporters and preparing to schmooze with conservative activists in New Hampshire.
Oh, and he had also recently been booked on two felony counts.
Five days after a grand jury indicted him, Perry was going about business as usual -- and his stock in the Republican Party had seemingly risen. Early signs suggested that Perry's political career won't be sunk by simultaneous campaign and courtroom tracks as he weighs another presidential bid -- that, in fact, the dual process might actually give his primary season prospects a boost. Unless, of course, he was actually convicted.
So why are some politicians who run into legal trouble sent packing, while others survive? To answer this question, let's take a look at the recent history of politicians' run-ins with the law, in alphabetical order:
The lesson: When you are removed from office and barred from running again, then -- yeah, that's pretty much it for you.
The Illinois Democratic governor was dislodged from office in 2009 after a unanimous vote in the state Senate. Blagojevich had been arrested on corruption charges, including plans to sell a Senate seat to the highest bidder. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2011. His political career is over.
The lesson: Losing the faith of your party usually spells the end.
The then-Idaho Republican senator was arrested for suspected lewd conduct in a men's restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport in 2007. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Meanwhile, his GOP colleagues asked him to step down from his committee leadership positions. He ended up not running for a third term in 2008. If he'd run again, odds were heavily against a win. But Craig resurfaced in the political world in recent months when the Idaho Republican Party had brought him on as the financial chair of its executive committee. The Associated Press reported last week that Craig filled an empty volunteer fundraising position. Craig is currently listed as the executive committee's financial chair on its Web site. He also recently appealed a six-figure campaign finance fine.
The lesson: An acquittal in a court of law doesn't guarantee the same verdict in the court of public opinion.
The former North Carolina senator and 2008 presidential candidate was indicted in 2011 on allegations he deployed illegal contributions to hide his mistress from the public. He was acquitted on one count and a mistrial freed him from five others. But the damage was done -- and then some. Edwards had a child with his mistress while his wife was battling breast cancer. She died of the disease in 2010. It's safe to say his political career is safely in the rearview mirror.
The lesson: If you get the the support of party leaders, that helps. A lot. And if you really have nothing to hide, it helps to, well, not hide.
Part of his early success responding to the charges was the perception among many Republicans -- and even some Democrats -- that his indictment (you can read about it more detail here) was flimsy and perhaps politically motivated. That made things a lot easier for the governor. When you have Chris Christie and Jeb Bush backing you publicly, it much more manageable to keep up a public schedule.
Perry did the opposite of hiding after his indictment -- a posture that projects confidence to the public about his insistence that he's innocent. He hopscotched the country starting with a trip to Washington. He did a Sunday news show interview. Did we mention he went straight from a county courthouse to an ice cream stand? That's one cool customer.
The lesson: You can't win if you don't play. Then again, if you're in trouble, you probably shouldn't play.
The former Florida Republican congressman who is under a federal investigation for possible ties to a campaign finance scheme tried running for his old seat this year. Briefly. Two months after launching, he ended his campaign, chalking the decision up to uncertainty about Florida's congressional map. He was officially identified as the target of a federal investigation this week. Coincidence? That'll be up to voters. Rivera said he will instead run for the state House in 2016. Unless he's cleared, that'll be a tough climb.
The lesson: Sometimes, your worst enemy in politics is time itself.
Stevens, a longtime Alaska Republican senator, lost a close race to then-Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) in 2008 after being convicted of seven felony counts of failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts. He had to stand trial during his campaign. It didn't help him that 2008 was a banner election for Democrats.
The guilty verdict in his case was tossed out by a federal judge in 2009. And a judicial investigation released in 2012 found the prosecution had concealed important evidence in the case. But that news came long after his career had ended.
Stevens passed away in a 2010 plane crash.
The lesson: Time can be your best friend in politics. And being suspected of wrongdoing and being charged with it are two very different things.
Vitter is a leading candidate for governor of Louisiana in 2015. Seven years ago, the Republican senator's number showed up in the phone records of the "D.C. Madam," linking him to a high-profile prostitution scandal.
But Vitter was never charged with anything. He apologized. And, perhaps most important, he didn't have to go before voters again until 2010. Three years is an eternity in politics. When he runs for governor next year, he will be seven years removed from scandal.