WASHINGTON—The careers of the three previous speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives ended amid scandals, as did the career of a would-be speaker. The House speaker is third in line to succeed a fallen president, behind the vice president and the president pro tempore of the Senate.
Here's a sketch of how recent speakers fell:
_Rep. Jim Wright, D-Texas, House speaker 1987-89.
In 1988, Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., filed an ethics complaint against Wright. The House ethics committee investigated and found that Wright had used political allies' bulk purchases of his book "Reflections of a Public Man" to generate income in ways that violated House rules. He was charged with 69 violations of House rules on gifts and outside income. Wright resigned as speaker on May 31, 1989.
_Rep. Tom Foley, D-Wash., House speaker 1989-94.
Foley's reputation was tarred by 1992 revelations of financial irregularities in the House bank and post office, which his office oversaw. He lost his bid for re-election in the GOP tide of 1994, when Republicans swept to power for the first time in 40 years. Foley was the first House speaker to lose a re-election bid since 1860.
_Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., House speaker 1995-98.
Gingrich stunned Washington by resigning as speaker days after Republicans lost five House seats in 1998 midterm elections. Voters blamed Gingrich for excessive partisanship in the House drive to impeach President Clinton. Gingrich faced rebellion in House Republican ranks and resigned.
_Rep. Robert Livingston, R-La., was chosen by House Republicans to succeed Gingrich, but shortly before the House began voting in December 1998 to impeach President Clinton for his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Livingston admitted that he too had engaged in extramarital affairs and said he wouldn't accept the speaker's post.
Republicans then chose Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., to be the next House speaker, a post he's held since 1999.
(c) 2006, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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