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Hit Delete All You Want …

It won’t do any good. The road to hell—or at least a good old Washington scandal—is paved with reckless e-mails.

This summer, President Obama’s nominee to be ambassador to Iraq, Brett McGurk—seemingly popular on a bipartisan basis—became the latest public figure to be brought low when inappropriate e-mails leaked. The e-mails from 2008 show McGurk, then a married Bush-administration appointee working in Baghdad on Iraq security negotiations, exchanging sometimes racy messages with Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon, whom he later married after a divorce.

Sent over several months and leaked online in June while his nomination was before the Senate, the e-mails contain explicit sexual references and show McGurk teasing Chon with hints of inappropriate leaks and access—as well as some simply embarrassing revelations such as the two calling reporters vultures. “If treated to many glasses of wine—you could be the chosen vultures,” McGurk wrote at one point.

After the e-mails became public, Chon resigned from the Journal and McGurk withdrew his nomination.

How many more scandals will it take before people realize that e-mail lasts forever? Here are some of the major gaffes of the digital age.


They are voting on the project today!! Can you smell money?!?!?!

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff

To an informal business partner, referring to Native American owners of a casino Abramoff went on to bill for $14 million


how my favorite young stud doing

Representative Mark Foley

Instant message to a congressional page


boy that Timberwolf was one shitty deal

Goldman Sachs banker

E-mail about a client deal he was selling; the message was used by Senator Carl Levin to attack the bank’s behavior during the financial crisis


This deal is NOT ready for prime time.

White House budget analyst

E-mail sent nine days before the Obama administration announced a $535-million loan to the now-bankrupt energy company Solyndra

i hear liberal girls are very, uh, accommodating of others

Representative Anthony Weiner

Alleged Facebook message to a Las Vegas blackjack dealer


We gonna pawty like iz yo birfday!

Wife of General Services Administration regional commissioner Jeff Neely

Writing about their taxpayer-funded island-hopping trip through the Pacific

This article appears in the September 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.

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