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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)

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)



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

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