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1983: Sex, Drugs and Censure on the Hill

[IMGCAP(1)]In the early 1980s, lawmakers, aides and other employees on Capitol Hill were accused of engaging in illegal drug activity, with 1983 marking a surge in Roll Call headlines about drug use, censures and sex scandals.

In July, Roll Call reported that then-Reps. Daniel Crane (R-Ill.) and Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) were censured following the discovery of their sexual relationships with underage pages.

Crane apologized for his sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl in 1980, while Studds did not apologize and said his relationship with a 17-year-old boy in 1973 was consensual.

Other Members came to their aid.

“Crane would have preferred losing an arm or having a heart attack to telling his wife and family about his relationship with a 17-year-old female page,” said Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.).

Despite many Members’ calls for their resignation, neither Crane nor Studds quit his post.

Also in the news that year was the drug scandal involving then-Reps. John Burton (D-Calif.), Ron Dellums (D-Calif.), Fred Richmond (D-N.Y.) and Charlie Wilson (D-Texas), and former Rep. Barry Goldwater Jr. (R-Calif.).

The investigation into the Members began in the summer of 1982 and officially ended in December 1983 with mixed results.

Late that year, a House ethics committee report was released declaring that the evidence of drug use was insufficient against Dellums, Goldwater and Wilson, and all charges were dropped. Burton and Richmond admitted to using marijuana and cocaine.