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History of Senate Punishments History of Senate Punishments

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History of Senate Punishments

Former Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.(KAREN BLEIER/Getty Images)

photo of Kenneth Chamberlain
May 12, 2011

John Ensign joins a small group of former senators, including Bob Packwood and David Durenberger, who have had their ethics cases referred to the Department of Justice for investigation. But within the Senate itself, its members can take action to either censure a fellow senator or try to expel that member from the chamber altogether.

Below is a list of senators, along with details of their cases as described by the Senate Historical Office, who have either faced censure or expulsion from the Senate over ethics charges.

(RELATED: The House: Expelled, Reprimanded, and Censured)

 

Censured

 

July 25, 1990

David Durenberger, R-Minn.

Charge: Unethical conduct  | Result: "Denounced" for reprehensible conduct, bringing the Senate into dishonor and disrepute. Did not run for reelection. Senate vote: 96-0 | More

 

October 11, 1979

Herman Talmadge, D-Ga.

Charge: Improper financial conduct (1973-78) | Result: His conduct was "denounced" as reprehensible and tending to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute. Defeated for reelection. Senate vote: 81-15 | More

 

June 23, 1967

Thomas Dodd, D-Conn.

Charge: Conduct unbecoming a senator. | Result: Censured. Defeated for reelection. Senate vote: 92-5 | More

 

December 2, 1954

Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis.

Charge: Abuse and noncooperation during a 1952 investigation of his conduct. | Result: He was "condemned." Died in office. Senate vote: 67-22 | More

 

November 4, 1929

Hiram Bingham, R-Conn.

Charge: Employing as a Senate staff member Charles Eyanson, who was simultaneously employed by the Manufacturers Association of Connecticut. | Result: "Condemned" for conduct tending "to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute." Defeated for reelection. Senate vote: 54-22; 18 not voting | More

 

February 28, 1902

Benjamin Tillman, D-S.C., and John McLaurin, D-S.C.

Charge: Fighting in the Senate chamber on February 22, 1902. | Result: Each was censured and suspended, retroactively, for six days.  Tillman--reelected; McLaurin--did not run for reelection. Senate vote: 54-12; 22 not voting | More

 

May 10, 1844

Benjamin Tappan, D-Ohio

Charge: Releasing to a newspaper President Tyler's message to the Senate regarding the treaty of annexation between the United States and the Republic of Texas. | Result: Censured. Did not run for reelection. Senate vote: 38-7 | More

 

January 2, 1811

Timothy Pickering, Federalist-Mass.

Charge: Reading confidential documents in open Senate session before an injunction of secrecy was removed | Result: Censured. Failed reelection (elected to the House in 1812). Senate vote: 20-7 | More

 

 

Expelled

 

 1995

Robert W. Packwood, R-Ore.

Charge: Sexual misconduct and abuse of power | Result: Resigned | More

 

1982

Harrison A. Williams Jr., D-N.J.

Charge: Corruption | Result: Resigned | More

 

1942

William Langer, R-N.D.

Charge: Corruption | Result: Not Expelled | More

 

1934

Huey P. Long, D-La.

Charge: Election fraud | Result: No Senate action | More

 

1934

John H. Overton, D-La.

Charge: Election fraud | Result: No Senate action | More

 

1924

Burton K. Wheeler, D-Mont.

Charge: Conflict of interest | Result: Not Expelled | More

 

1922

Truman H. Newberry, R-Mich.

Charge: Election fraud | Result: Resigned  | More

 

1919

Robert La Follette, R-Wis.

Charge: Disloyalty | Result: Not Expelled | More

 

1907

Reed Smoot, R-Utah

Charge: Mormonism | Result: Not Expelled | More

 

 1906

Joseph Burton, R-Kan.

Charge: Corruption | Result: Resigned | More

 

  1905

John H. Mitchell, R-Ore.

Charge: Corruption | Result: Not Expelled | More

 

1893

William Roach, D-N.D.

Charge: Embezzlement | Result: Not Expelled | More

 

1873

James Patterson, R-N.H.

Charge: Corruption | Result: Term Expired | More

 

1862

James Simmons, R-R.I.

Charge: Corruption | Result: Resigned | More

 

1862

Jesse Bright, D-Ind.

Charge: Support for Confederate rebellion | Result: Expelled | More

 

1862

Waldo Johnson, D-Mo.

Charge: Support for Confederate rebellion | Result: Expelled | More

 

1862

Trusten Polk, D-Mo.

Charge: Support for Confederate rebellion | Result: Expelled | More

 

1862

Lazarus Powell, D-Ky.

Charge: Support for Confederate rebellion | Result: Not Expelled | More

 1861

John Breckinridge, D-Ky.

Charge: Support for Confederate rebellion | Result: Expelled | More

 

 1861

Louis Wigfall, D-Texas

Charge: Support for Confederate rebellion | Result: Expelled | More

 

 1861

James Mason, D-Va.

Charge: Support for Confederate rebellion | Result: Expelled | More

 

 1861

Robert Hunter, D-Va.

Charge: Support for Confederate rebellion | Result: Expelled | More

 

 1861

Thomas Clingman, D-N.C.

Charge: Support for Confederate rebellion | Result: Expelled | More

 

 1861

Thomas Bragg, D-N.C.

Charge: Support for Confederate rebellion | Result: Expelled | More

 

 1861

James Chesnut Jr., D-S.C.

Charge: Support for Confederate rebellion | Result: Expelled | More

 

 1861

Alfred Nicholson, D-Tenn.

Charge: Support for Confederate rebellion | Result: Expelled | More

 

 1861

William Sebastian, D-Ark.

Charge: Support for Confederate rebellion | Result: Expelled | More

 

 1861

Charles Mitchel, D-Ark.

Charge: Support for Confederate rebellion | Result: Expelled | More

 

 1861

John Hemphill, D-Texas

Charge: Support for Confederate rebellion | Result: Expelled | More

 

 1808

John Smith, R-Ohio

Charge: Disloyalty/Treason | Result: Not Expelled | More

 

 1797

William Blount, R-Tenn.

Charge: Anti-Spanish conspiracy; treason | Result: Expelled | More

 

 

 

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