Mr. Tall SkeletonMr. Tall Skeleton2

Extreme Skeleton Closet: Severe Scandals

Normally we only cover presidential candidates, who are slick enough to waffle, stonewall, and slide out of anything really juicy. (Or cover it up with massive conspiracies, if you like to think that way.)

So on this page we cover some of the local politicians, small fry with big skeletons and little slickness. Imagine if your favorite presidential candidate was accused or convicted of these doozies:

-- Murdering Your Opponent

-- Biting another woman for not joining a sexual threesome

-- Suicide, murder and lesbian trysts

-- Murdering A Goat

-- Illegal shopping

-- Mailing Dead Fish to Your Opponent

-- Paying a Scary, Black Phony Opponent To Run

-- Narcotics, wiretapping, assault weapons, and pornography


Byron (Low Tax) Looper was willing to do anything to get elected. He legally changed his middle name to "(Low Tax)" so that phrase would appear on the ballot.

But that didn't seem to be enough in his race for Tennessee State Senate. His indictment for theft and misuse didn't help. Nor did the lawsuit by his ex-girlfriend accusing him of forcing sex on her, and illegally signing her house over to him. (Looper was the County Property Tax Assessor.) Looper had actually tried to pass her off as his wife in "Meet My Family" type advertisements. And a former employee has alleged in affidavits that Looper audited the taxes of his opponents.

Two weeks before the 1998 general election, Looper's opponent (Senator Tommy Burks) was shot in the head. Looper has been arrested and charged with first degree murder.

Oddly enough, this was a positive development for Looper's campaign. He was the only one left on the ballot, and Tennessee law provided no mechanism for removing Looper or replacing Burks at that late date.

Even that was not enough of an advantage for this loser. Burks' widow ran a write-in campaign and beat Looper with 95% of the vote.

"A Tragic Southern Twist", by Jill Seider, Newsweek, November 2, 1998
Here's a defense of Looper by his lawyer.

Serial Face Biting

How did you guess this happened in California? Not only in the San Francisco area, but in Marin County?

Cathomas Starbird (that's not a typo) was elected to the Marin School Board on a platform of reducing school violence. But she opened herself up to charges of hypocrisy when she plead guilty to assault charges in December 1998. And that was the least of her embarrassment.

According to court records, Starbird went out for dinner and drinks with her husband and a female friend to celebrate his birthday. Apparently she had arranged a special birthday present, because the three headed back to Starbird's apartment and started undressing.

The trouble began when the other woman "refused to peform a particular sex act on her husband." The San Francisco Chronicle didn't specify the act, but we're guessing it was a tobacco-free favorite of Monica Lewinsky.

Starbird flipped out, and according to the Chronicle, "punched the woman, then jumped on top of her and bit her in the FACE." Even after Starbird's husband pulled his wife off the woman, she jumped her again and re-bit her face.

Oddly enough, Starbird had no comment after her guilty plea. With a good spin doctor, she would have protested that she was a hero, the kind of supportive wife every man wishes he had.

Source: "School Trustee's Racy Revelry Bites Back at Her", by Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, San Francisco Chronicle, December 4, 1998 pA1

Suicide, murder and filming paid lesbian trysts

It's hard to top the scandal in New York state's upstate Dutchess county. William L. Paroli, Sr., a 71 year old retired police detective, is the powerful and hugely overweight Republican boss of this county. NY Governor Pataki is trying to remove him from office as elections commissioner before Paroli's March 2000 trial on 16 counts of corruption, for trading permits and tax breaks for $100,000 in payments. (Four others have already been convicted in the case.)

So far, nothing remarkable. Somewhat more unusual is the recent election for county that William Paroli Junior lost by 59 votes. It's unusual enough for any Republican to lose in this county, but the odd part is that the county elections officer -- Paroli Senior -- ordered a do-over vote because it snowed on election day. A Republican judge ordered the re-vote in only one town, and Democrats are appealing to stop this strange second chance.

But the really strange part is what has happened to Paroli Senior's two main accusers in his corruption case. Paroli claims he is innocent, and that two enemies, both former Republican colleagues, are orchestrating his troubles. The first, Basil Raucci, was found drowned in the Hudson River in 1997; it was ruled a suicide but rumors of foul play persist.

The other, Fred Andros, is recovering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He and Dawn Silvernail, age 50, have been charged with murder in the shooting death , in a church parking lot, of Susan Fasset, Poughkeepsie's former personnel director. In court documents, Ms. Silvernail says that Andros -- her former lover -- paid her several times to have sex with Ms. Fasset in a city water pumping station. Andros, she said, videotaped them and then joined in. Police are investigating whether the murder is connected to the Paroli scandal. Later, she said, he coerced her into shooting Fasset.

Source: "In Dutchess Politics, Sex, Suicide and a Big Man Behind the Curtain", By DAVID W. CHEN, New York Times online, February 4, 2000

Hiring a Scary, Black Phony Opponent

In May 1992, a Republican political consultant from South Carolina named Rod Shealy was convicted of hiring an unemployed black fisherman to run for lieutenant governor against Shealy's sister. He admitted he did it to scare white voters to the polls so they would vote for his sister.

Source: Chuck Shephard's News of the Weird

Narcotics, wiretapping and pornography

Drew Davis was an Oregon state legislator, Tupperware salesman and conservative leader in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He aggressively opposed gay rights, abortion and other immoralities, and brought Oliver North to Portland for a lecture on patriotic values and clean living.

His political career came to an abrupt halt on August 29, 1989 when he led Newberg, Oregon police on a 15 mile car chase. When they finally got him to stop, police found pornographic magazines, a MAC 11 assault pistol, telephone bugging equipment, a police scanner, and Vicodin, a heroin-like prescription narcotic.

Davis explained his actions by saying he had been addicted to narcotics for 20 years. It's hard to even use the word hypocrisy with typical politicians after this kind of performance. That December, Davis filed suit against a Portland alternative paper for damaging his reputation. But even he only valued that reputation at $2,500; he filed in small claims court, and the paper shrugged off his claim as "extortion."

But that's not all!! 4 years later Davis was back in the headlines due to a dispute over money he allegedly received from the Moonies. The "International Peace Foundation", an alleged Moonie front group, loaned Davis $315,000 around the time of his arrest; they claimed in 1993 that Davis and his wife Lori defaulted on the loan, and filed a lien on their $507,000 home in posh Lake Oswego, the couple's Tupperware distributorship, and other assets.

Davis did not dispute the group's ties to religious cult leader Sun Myung Moon, and said such an affiliation wouldn't bother him. "These people were gracious enough to help us out," he said. "I'll work things out with them." Sources

Send Me Dead Flounders

In October 1994, Deptford, N.J., politician Mike Mostovlyan sent two large, dead fish through the mail to his political foe, Deputy Mayor Bea Cerkeztold. But he told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he actually meant to mail the fish to a friend in Puerto Rico and a book to Cerkez. He said he accidentally mislabeled the packages.

Source: Chuck Shephard's News of the Weird

Murdering a Goat

In September 1996, Frederico the Goat was mysteriously poisoned, allegedly (according to his owner) by a political opponent. That's right, the goat was running as a protest candidate in the race for mayor of the northern Brazilian town of Pilar. He had been leading in public opinion polls.

Source: Chuck Shephard's News of the Weird

Illegal Shopping (plus Cocaine and Pile-On Orgies)

Gordon Shadburne was a conservative Christian county commissioner in the greater Portland, Oregon area. His first scandal was sending a letter on county stationery to local fundamentalist churches, preaching that homosexuality was "the stronghold of Satan." Not a big deal, but a bit excessive.

But when he was found to have used county money to take his sweetheart shopping in Edmonton, Alberta (of all places) the papers had a field day and he was forced to resign. Because, as you've guessed by now, his sweetheart was a man. And here's the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say:

Reporters first started wondering because one of Shadburnes top aides was openly gay; he actually wrote the gay rights law that Shadburne later opposed. True to form, Shadburne fired this highly respected former county commissioner, offering him 4 week's severance pay if he wouldn't talk to the press. This caused another aide to quit.

Then a number of sources reported that Shadburne had homosexual affairs himself. Most prominent was the testimony of Shadburne's ex-wife during mediation proceedings. The County Auditor issued a report criticizing Shadburne for paying his long-time friend and former roommate $29,000 in 9 months as an independent contractor, despite very poorly documented hours and questionable work output. Shadburne's friend was during this time one of the highest paid public officials in the county, working from home; the commissioners themselves only made $33,000 a year.

Finally, the roof caved in. Shadburne quit his commissioner post amid allegations of cocaine use and pile-on orgies during a county-paid business trip, and was convicted twice of using county money for personal business.


Wiretapping, Narcotics, Etc.:

"Newsthins", Willamette Week, September 7, 1989 p 10
"False Alarms, Broken Promises and Outright Lies," Willamette Week, v16, n1, November 2, 1989 p17
"Controversies", Willamette Week, December 21, 1989 p 8
"Moonlighting," Willamette Week, July 29, 1993 p6
"Newsthins: Murmurs", Willamette Week, v. 19, n47, September 16, 1993 p5

Illegal Shopping:

"Gordon Shadburne's Character", Willamette Week, v12 n15, February 13, 1986 p2
"False Alarms, Broken Promises and Outright Lies," Willamette Week, v16, n1, November 2, 1989 p17
Willamette Week, August 8, 1991 p13
"Money For Nothing" by Jim Redden, Willlamette Week, May 1, 1986 p1


Paid for by Real People For Real Change and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Copyright 1999 Real People For Real Change