Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 30, 2014

Former Rep. Mel Reynolds Arrested in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean authorities on Tuesday arrested former congressman and convicted felon Mel Reynolds under suspicion of possessing pornographic material and violating immigration protocol.

Reynolds’ diplomatic problems, first reported by The Associated Press, are just the latest embarrassment in a short-lived political career dominated by scandal.

The Illinois Democrat was elected in 1992 to the House and re-elected in 1994 but never completed his second term, resigning in 1995 following a conviction on sexual misconduct charges stemming from an affair with an underage campaign aide. Reynolds was found guilty of misusing campaign funds and bank fraud two years later. He spent a couple of years in prison but was pardoned in 2001 by President Bill Clinton.

Former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., who last fall was sentenced to 30 months in prison for helping himself to $750,000 in campaign funds, had replaced Reynolds after his initial fall from grace. Democratic Rep. Robin Kelly won a special election to succeed Jackson in the 2nd District in early 2013.

Reynolds unsuccessfully attempted to mount a comeback in 2004, vying to unseat Jackson, and again last year, in an attempt to succeed his successor.

“The bottom line is my past is my past,” Reynolds assured Roll Call a decade ago. “I don’t wear mistakes that I have made as a badge of shame, just as I don’t wear all of my accomplishments as a badge of confidence.”

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