Nobody runs for office hoping to end up infamous.
Famous, maybe. Powerful, often. But never infamous.
Yet two more public careers darkened under clouds of disgrace last week as San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning his Venezuelan soap-star wife and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich reported to federal prison to start his 14-year sentence for corruption.
They've got plenty of company in California; like Mirkarimi, some Bay Area elected officials grapple with scandal even now.
Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, pleaded no contest in January to shoplifting clothes from Neiman Marcus. Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer is in rehab after an alleged assault by her ex-lover.
Can they rebound? For guidance, we looked to the experiences of some of California's most humbled politicians. For Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham and San Francisco Supervisor Edmund Jew, scandal led to prison. Congressman Gary Condit moved from pushing legislation to scooping ice cream, only to get sued. However, one disgraced former statewide official now carries a badge, and another is a successful lawyer.
The fallen know too well: Nothing is fair in love and politics.
"A lot of these people that end up getting in serious trouble will go to their graves believing in their hearts and in their heads that they really didn't do anything wrong," said longtime political consultant Garry South.
It's too soon to say whether Hayashi's, Lockyer's and Mirkarimi's troubles will cost them their careers. But just look at where transgressions landed these Golden State officials.
The politician: Rep. Gary Condit, a six-term Blue Dog conservative Democrat from Ceres, was publicly castigated as he dodged questions about an affair with constituent and federal intern Chandra Levy, of Modesto, who vanished in May 2001.
The fall: Another man eventually would be convicted of her murder, but many thought Condit -- who has said he felt police were railroading him -- handled the scrutiny badly. Some called him a hypocrite for urging President Bill Clinton to "come clean" about sexual shenanigans, then refusing to do likewise; even allies panned his awkward, evasive interview on a national newscast. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks pushed him off the front pages, but the scandal and state lawmakers' unfriendly redistricting let former aide Dennis Cardoza drub him in the March 2002 primary.
The landing: It's been a rocky road since. Condit, his wife and son opened two Baskin-Robbins ice cream shops in Arizona but were sued in 2006 for breach of contract and were ordered to pay about $98,000. Also, he lost his 2006 defamation suit against an Arizona weekly newspaper, and ended up with a tab of $42,680 in legal fees and court costs.
Now 63, Condit has moved back to Ceres and is writing a book about his experiences; he declined to comment for this article. His son, Chad Condit, is an independent candidate in California's newly drawn 10th Congressional District, which includes much of the area his father once served.
The politician: Randall Harold "Duke" Cunningham was a war hero -- the only Navy aviator "flying ace" in Vietnam -- long before his 1990 election to Congress, but he left office 15 years later as anything but a hero.
The fall: Defense contractors doing deals overseen by a subcommittee on which Cunningham sat bought his Del Mar home at a highly inflated price; owned the yacht he lived on in Washington; paid off the loan on his Rancho Santa Fe mansion; and gave him more than $630,000 in cash and favors, even as he pressured the Pentagon on their behalf. He resigned in late 2005 after pleading guilty to corruption charges, admitting he'd taken $2.4 million in bribes and evaded more than $1 million in taxes. He was sentenced in 2006 to eight years and four months in prison and $1.8 million in restitution, but the disgrace went on: Court documents filed with one of the contractors' 2007 indictment indicated he also had provided Cunningham with prostitutes.
The landing: Now 70, Cunningham is federal inmate number 94405-198 in a minimum-security prison in Tucson, Ariz., where he teaches fellow inmates earning their GEDs. He's set to be released June 4, 2013. He wrote to news outlets last year claiming he had been ailing from cancer and doped up on sedatives when pleading guilty to charges that were "90 to 95% untrue."
The politician: After four Assembly terms and in his second term as California's insurance commissioner, Quackenbush was a rising Republican star.
The fall: Quackenbush transferred $565,000 -- much of which came from insurers he regulated -- from his campaign into his wife's failed state Senate run. She used some of the money to repay herself cash she had loaned her campaign. He also closed probes of mishandled claims from 1994's Northridge quake involving insurers that contributed to his "educational foundations" and was accused of using foundation funds for political self-promotion. Forsaken by fellow Republicans, he resigned in June 2000, a day before he was to testify to the Assembly.
The landing: After living in Hawaii for a few years, Quackenbush moved to Florida and has been a Lee County sheriff's deputy since June 2005; in 2008, he shot a suspect who had grabbed his Taser.
Interviewed by email last week, Quackenbush, now 57, said GOP lawmakers "caved to the media frenzy," giving him no chance "to change the template of the story with the facts." He wishes he had monitored the foundations' spending instead of delegating that to others, but otherwise believes he did a good job and was the victim of a media and political vendetta. He said he's honored to serve in law enforcement now and has "no immediate plans to run for any office. However, the spark for politics has never gone out."
The politician: The son of a former San Francisco mayor, congressman and state senator, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley -- a former county supervisor and assemblyman -- was building his own legacy.
The fall: Reputedly a hothead who verbally abused his staff, Shelley took $125,000 in campaign donations that were illegally diverted from a $500,000 grant he'd secured for a San Francisco nonprofit. He was cleared of wrongdoing and gave up the money, but the contributor got a year in federal prison. Other probes found Shelley misspent $3.6 million in federal Help America Vote Act funds, with some apparently used for politicking. With legal bills and political pressure mounting, Shelley stepped down in March 2005.
The landing: Shelley began practicing law again, and worked for San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission for a month in 2009, leveraging his six years as a supervisor for a small city pension and retirement health benefits. Now 56, he represents consumers and plaintiffs in civil litigation. He didn't return an email and calls seeking comment.
The politician: Jew was only six months into his term as a San Francisco supervisor when the FBI raided his office and homes in May 2007.
The fall: The feds sought evidence that he'd extorted money from the owners of a tapioca drink chain who were having problems with the city's permit process. Then the city attorney began probing whether Jew really lived where he said, or if he'd lied about having the city residency required of supervisors. Before long he was criminally charged in both cases and resigned in January 2008. He pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud and extortion charges, and he was sentenced in April 2009 to 64 months in federal prison and a $10,000 fine. He also pleaded guilty to perjury for lying about his residency, for which he got a year of county jail.
The landing: Now 51, Jew is in the federal prison at Taft, just outside Bakersfield, scheduled to be released Feb. 21, 2014.
The politician: Ron Gonzales in 1999 became San Jose's first Latino mayor since California became a state in 1850.
The fall: The City Council approved a 9 percent, $11 million rate increase Gonzales and an aide had negotiated with Norcal Waste Systems, money the garbage hauler used to pay Teamster workers -- part of Gonzales' political power base. A civil grand jury and an independent investigator said he misled the council about the effort to steer money to the workers, though neither said he acted illegally; the council censured him in December 2005. A criminal grand jury indicted him for bribery, fraud and embezzlement in June 2006 but he refused to resign, finishing his second term at that year's end. A judge dismissed the case in June 2007, finding prosecutors gave the grand jury faulty guidelines. "This is not bribery. This is politics," the judge wrote.
The landing: Gonzales, 60, attained a rare return to community prominence as president and CEO of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley.
"The two years of hell I was put through was not an issue for me," Gonzales said Thursday. "I recognize that as a public official this can happen ... but it's a painful process to go through for my family, friends and supporters.
"When I did leave public office, someone asked one of my siblings, 'How do you feel about Ron not being in public office anymore?', and my sister said, 'We have our brother back,' " he said. "I was very fortunate to have family and my faith to fall back on. ... You find out who your true friends are. I think I'm a stronger person now because of it."