10 Career-ending Affairs

John Edwards and Rielle Hunter
John Edwards and his daughter Cate spoke with media outside a federal court May 31, 2012, after he was acquitted on one count of campaign finance fraud, and a mistrial was declared on the other five counts. © Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

Combining elements from a lot of the previous stories -- the quirky personality matchup, the stresses of personal and public life -- we get the Edwards/Hunter affair, which blossomed not unlike the more recent Petraeus scandal (which we'll cover later) but with more unsavory details.

Married North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (D) met Rielle Hunter in a bar in New York City in late 2006, and shortly after began a sexual relationship.

On Oct. 10, 2007, everything went down at once: The (you guessed it) National Enquirer was calling Edwards out for an affair with a campaign worker, while a Huffington Post blogger who'd been following the story produced more details about Hunter, and New York magazine connected her back to the Enquirer story. It's worth noting that throughout all of these events, Edwards's wife Elizabeth was battling breast cancer.

All wrongdoing was denied, of course, but the Enquirer, standing by its story, produced a follow-up in an article that included a photo of a very pregnant Hunter. Just to make everything weirder, a former Edwards staffer named Andrew Young got involved, relocating Hunter to Chapel Hill near him and claiming paternity of the child [source: Singh and Gomstyn].

Eventually, of course, everything came out. After a long string of denials, Edwards finally confessed to the affair and his paternity of the child [source: Fausset]. In June 2011, Edwards was indicted on six felony charges involving misuse of campaign funds to support his mistress and hide his affair, but after a mistrial, the U.S. Justice Department dropped the case in June 2012 [source: Biesecker].