Former Illinois Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty to felony charges this week, admitting to violating a slew of laws by buying luxury items with political funds.
While most politicians caught up in scandals have humble beginnings, Jackson does join a sizeable list of second-generation politicians who became embroiled in scandal.
Jackson's plea deal, which includes jail time, comes a few months after he was re-elected in a heavily Democratic Chicago district, despite spending no time campaigning.
Most members of American political families are savvy enough to avoid embarrassing public spectacles, but a few seem to have assumed their political power grants them carte blanche to misbehave.
Below are nine politicians who—along with Jackson—have stumbled following a previous generation's footsteps.
Kwame Kilpatrick: Kilpatrick served as mayor of Detroit from 2002 to 2008. His mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, was a congresswoman from 1997 to 2011. The mayor's downfall began in 2008 after he engaged in an affair with a subordinate—and sent her x-rated text messages using city phones. His mother memorably defended her son, telling supporters at a campaign rally, "don't let nobody talk about ya'lls boy, too many people have died!" After spending time in the slammer for the texting scandal, Kilpatrick's legal problems have continued with parole violations and an ongoing corruption prosecution.
Patrick Kennedy: Kennedy represented Rhode Island in Congress from 1995 to 2011. His father was Sen. Ted Kennedy. In 2006 Kennedy was apprehended by police after crashing his car into a roadblock near the Capitol at 2:45 a.m. He told officers that he was arriving for a vote, but later blamed the sleeping pill Ambien for his confusion. Not long after, Kennedy pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of prescription drugs and checked himself into rehab.
Ted Kennedy: The longtime Massachusetts senator is somewhat of a sacred cow in American politics. His 1962 to 2009 tenure in the Senate was punctuated by the 1969 death of Mary Jo Kopechne. After a party on Massachusetts's Chappaquiddick Island, Kennedy drove his Oldsmobile off a bridge, then left the scene as Kopechne died. He was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, but denied that he was drunk at the time of the accident. Kennedy was the son of Boston powerbroker Joseph Kennedy, who served as Ambassador to the United Kingdom and who helped engineer the political rise of his sons, including President John F. Kennedy.
Chris Dodd: A longtime drinking buddy of Sen. Kennedy, Chris Dodd—a Democratic senator from Connecticut from 1981 to 2011—was accused of shenanigans of his own. In 2003, Dodd received mortgages from Countrywide at below-market rates allegedly as a special favor given because of his position on the Senate Banking Committee. He currently is the chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America. Dodd's father, Thomas J. Dodd, was a senator from 1959 to 1971.
Cornelius Harvey McGillicuddy IV: Popularly known as "Connie Mack," the former Florida congressman—whose father was a senator—had a wild reputation in his youth. Highlights from these years include road rage incidents and bar fights, which featured prominently in 2012 attack ads. In November Mack lost his bid for the Senate seat represented by Democrat Bill Nelson.
James Roosevelt: The son of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, James Roosevelt was frequently in the news for the wrong reasons. In 1938 he resigned from a White House job as his father's assistant after being accused in news reports of improperly steering business toward his insurance company. Roosevelt was a California congressman from 1955 to 1965. In 1987 a political action group led by Roosevelt was investigated for frightening elderly people into paying for Social Security information available for free from the government.
Nelson Rockefeller: Although not a second-generation politician per se, the son of oil baron John D. Rockefeller Jr. entered politics with deep roots among the political class. Rockefeller served as governor of New York from 1959 to 1973 and as Vice President from 1974 to 1977. He died of a heart attack under peculiar circumstances in 1979. It was widely speculated that he died while having sex with a young woman who was not his wife.
Kendrick Meek: In 2002 Meek was elected to replace his mother, Florida Democratic Rep. Carrie Meek, in Congress. He was re-elected three times, winning nearly 100 percent of the vote against no serious challenger. Before his time in federal office Meek served in the state legislature, where he did not recuse himself from votes affecting the financial wellbeing of Wackenhut Corp., a company that overbilled Miami-Dade County for security contracts. The company also employed Meek, his wife, and his mother. Kendrick Meek is most well-known for a 2010 Senate campaign, during which prominent Democrats unsuccessfully tried to convince Meek to withdraw in favor of independent candidate—and former Republican governor—Charlie Crist. Meek's refusal to withdraw—despite low polling numbers—was seen as a boon for Marco Rubio, the Republican who went on to win the three-way contest.
Monica Conyers: Although not strictly speaking a second-generation politician, Conyers is thirty-five years younger than her husband, Michigan Rep. John Conyers, whose legacy helped her win election to the Detroit City Council in 2005. During her political career she called a balding colleague "shrek" and then argued with middle school students to justify the name-calling. In 2009 Conyers pleaded guilty to accepting bribes.