Texts, Sex, Lies and Corruption: Here’s What Has Forced Governors Out of Office

Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló of Puerto Rico announced his resignation on Wednesday, after an uprising and looming impeachment proceedings had derailed his administration.

Though residents said they were fed up by years of corruption, the tipping point proved to be the publication of hundreds of pages of crass, insensitive and often profane chat messages among Mr. Rosselló and 11 men in his inner circle. The texts confirmed what many Puerto Ricans thought — that they held disdain for the public.

[Mr. Rosselló conceded he could not stay in power and said he would step down Aug. 2]

The vast majority of governors in the United States fulfill their terms, though many have resigned to take a cabinet position, or to join the Senate. Since World War II, two have left governor’s mansions to move to the White House. But a few have met ignominious ends in office.

Here is a look at the men who have been forced out of the governor’s office over the past 15 years.

2018

Mr. Greitens, a Rhodes scholar, a decorated member of the Navy SEALs who served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a Bronze Star recipient, was seen as a rising star in the Republican Party.

But he lasted barely 17 months in office, before two felony charges involving allegations of sexual and political misconduct and a 24-page legislative committee report filled with graphic details of an extramarital affair brought the looming threat of impeachment in a state capital dominated by his fellow Republicans.

“It’s clear that for the forces that oppose us, there is no end in sight,” he said in his resignation speech. “I cannot allow those forces to continue to cause pain and difficulty to the people that I love. I know and people of good faith know that I am not perfect, but I have not broken any laws or committed any offense worthy of this treatment.”

Shortly after the speech, the other felony charge, for illegally obtaining a donor list from a charity he founded and using it to raise money for his 2016 campaign, was also dropped.

Where is he now? Mr. Greitens recently said that he planned to deploy with the Navy to the Middle East in the fall, The Kansas City Star reported.

Read our reporting from the time: How His Downfall Unfolded | Sex Claims Against Gov. Eric Greitens of Missouri Vividly Detailed in Report

Mr. Bentley left office on the day that impeachment hearings began — an exit that was secured by prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges: failing to file a major contribution report and knowingly converting campaign contributions to personal use.

Days earlier, a report was made public that said Mr. Bentley, a Republican, had fostered “an atmosphere of intimidation” and compelled state employees to help him cover up his affair with his senior political adviser, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. He was also the subject of multiple investigations, including inquiries by the F.B.I. and the state attorney general’s office. The deal, which bars him from public office, allowed him to avoid felony charges and potential jail time.

In 2016, Mr. Bentley acknowledged that he had made sexually charged remarks to Ms. Mason, whom one official referred to as the “de facto governor.” Ms. Mason resigned in 2016.

“I’ve not always made the right choices,” he said. “I’ve not always said the right things. Though I have sometimes failed, I’ve always tried to live up to the high expectations the people place on the person who holds this esteemed office.”

Where is he now? A dermatologist by training, Mr. Bentley has since returned to private practice, where Ms. Mason again works for him. His biography does not mention that he did not finish his second term.

Read our reporting from the time: A Dispiriting Setback for Conservative Christians | Alabama Governor Denies Having Affair With Aide

A personal relationship was also at the center of a crisis that engulfed Mr. Kitzhaber, a Democrat, only one month after starting his fourth term (he also served from 1995-2003).

His fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, was accused of using her access to the governor to gain consulting contracts. Federal prosecutors subpoenaed years of emails, employment records, visitor logs, credit card statements, tax returns and anything related to contracts awarded to Ms. Hayes or her consulting company.

Though no criminal charges were filed against either Mr. Kitzhaber or Ms. Hayes, who had been an unpaid policy adviser to the governor, the state’s ethics commission concluded that they had violated conflict-of-interest laws.

Mr. Kitzhaber agreed to pay a $20,000 fine last year and admitted to violating state ethics laws.

“It is deeply troubling to me to realize that we have come to a place in the history of this great state of ours where a person can be charged, tried, convicted and sentenced by the media with no due process and no independent verification of the allegations involved,” he said upon leaving office.

Where is he now? Mr. Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, is a paid speaker and consultant, with a focus on health care policy and issues.

Read our reporting from the time: The Governor and His Fiancée Walked Tangled Path to Exit | Love and Politics Collide as Scandals Plague Oregon’s Fourth-Term Governor

A vacant Senate seat left by President-elect Barack Obama became the undoing of Mr. Blagojevich. He was impeached and removed in 2009 and later convicted on federal charges for corruption, for trying to personally benefit from making an appointment to Mr. Obama’s seat and from people who had state business. Federal prosecutors said that his actions “would make Lincoln roll over in his grave.”

“The law as it stands right now is that I have to go do what I have to go do, and this is the hardest thing that I have ever had to do,” he said outside his Chicago home on the day before going to prison in 2012. “I’ll see you around.”

Where is he now? He remains in a low-security prison in Jefferson County, Colo., although President Trump last year suggested that he might commute Mr. Blagojevich’s 14-year sentence.

Read our reporting from the time: The Selling of Obama’s Seat | Portrait of a Politician: Vengeful and Profane


2008

Mr. Spitzer, the son of a wealthy New York real estate baron, graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School before serving two terms as New York’s attorney general (1999-2007). His time in that office was best known for his using aggressive tactics to pursue tycoons and executives with a moralistic fervor.

Those years earned him a landslide victory in the governor’s race in 2006. Mr. Spitzer, a Democrat, lasted little more than a year before he was caught on a federal wiretap confirming plans to meet an escort from a high-priced prostitution service in Washington.

“Over the course of my public life, I have insisted — I believe correctly — that people regardless of their position or power take responsibility for their conduct,” he said, announcing his resignation. “I can and will ask no less of myself.”

Mr. Spitzer did not face criminal charges and, in 2013, he lost the Democratic primary for New York City comptroller.

Where is he now? He took over his family’s real estate business after his father’s death in 2014.

Read our reporting from the time: The Reports That Drew Federal Eyes to Spitzer | Sifting the Wreckage for the Real Eliot Spitzer


2004

Mr. McGreevey, a Democrat, resigned in 2004 after admitting he had an affair with a man he had put on the state payroll as a special adviser. He was the first openly gay governor.

“I realize the fact of this affair and my own sexuality if kept secret leaves me, and most importantly the governor’s office, vulnerable to rumors, false allegations, and threats of disclosure,” he said in his resignation address.

“So I am removing these threats by telling you directly about my sexuality. Let me be clear, I accept total and full responsibility for my actions. However, I am required to — to do now, to do what is right to correct the consequences of my actions and to be truthful to my loved ones, to my friends and my family, and also to myself.”

Where is he now? He has been helping to reintegrate former inmates into society, but he was recently ousted from his leadership role for the local New Jersey nonprofit program.

Read our reporting from the time: McGreevey Steps Down After Disclosing a Gay Affair | Reactions: Sympathy and Skepticism Across the State


2004

Mr. Rowland, a Republican, was facing impeachment when he resigned in 2004, midway through his third term, amid a federal investigation for accepting gifts from friends and business executives.

“I acknowledge that my poor judgment has brought us here,” he said in a televised address outside the governor’s mansion. It was the only reference he made to the scandal about to force him from office.

One year later, he was convicted and sentenced to a year in federal prison for accepting $107,000 in gifts from people doing business with the state and not paying taxes on them.

He went to prison a second time, after a conviction in 2014 on more corruption charges. The two-and-a-half-year sentence was for conspiring to conceal payments for his work on a congressional campaign from the Federal Election Commission.

Where is he now? Mr. Rowland is a development director for Prison Fellowship Ministry, helping to counsel prisoners and former prisoners, while advocating for criminal justice reforms.

Read our reporting from the time: Sadness, Some Cheers, but Mostly Sighs of Relief | Experts Say Prison Camp Is Bleak, but Bearable