List of Impeached Governors in the United States

8 U.S. Governors Have Been Removed From Office

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich pauses while speaking to the media at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago, Illinois, in 2011. Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison after he was found guilty of 17 public corruption charges. Frank Polich/Getty Images

Only eight governors in U.S. history have been forcefully removed from office through the impeachment process in their states. Impeachment is a two-step process that includes the lodging of charges against an office-holder and the ensuing trial for those alleged high crimes and misdemeanors.

It is important to note that while only eight governors have been removed from power after impeachment, many more have been accused of crimes and were either acquitted or voluntarily resigned from office because their states do not allow convicted felons to hold elected office. 

For example, Fife Symington resigned from his post as Arizona governor in 1997 following his felony conviction on charges of defrauded lenders in his former career as a real estate developer. Similarly, Jim Guy Tucker quit as Arkansas governor amid the threat of impeachment in 1996 after his conviction on charges of mail fraud and of conspiracy to set up a series of fraudulent loans. 

A half dozen governors have been indicted since 2000, including Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on felony charges of invasion of privacy in 2018 for allegedly taking a compromising photo of a women with whom he was having an affair. In 2017, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley resigned rather than face impeachment after pleading guilty to campaign violations. 

The eight governors listed below are the only ones to have been convicted in the impeachment process and ousted from office in the U.S.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich
Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Illinois House of Representatives voted to impeach Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, in January 2009. The Senate voted unanimously to convict home that month. The governor was also indicted on federal charges of abusing his authority. Among the most scandalous charges against Blagojevich were for trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after his 2008 election as president.

 

Gov. Evan Mecham of Arizona

The Arizona House and Senate impeached Mecham, a Republican, in 1988 after a state grand jury convicted him on six felony charges of fraud, perjury and filing false documents. He served 15 months as governor. Among the charges was falsifying campaign finance reports to conceal a loan to his campaign of $350,000.

Gov. Henry S. Johnston of Oklahoma

The Oklahoma legislature impeached but did not convict Johnston, a Democrat, in 1928. He was impeached again in 1929 and convicted of one charge, general incompetency.

Gov. John C. Walton of Oklahoma

The Oklahoma House of Representatives charged Walton, a Democrat, with 22 counts, including misappropriating public funds. Eleven of the 22 were sustained. When an Oklahoma City grand jury prepared to investigate the governor’s office, Walton put the entire state under martial law on September 15, 1923, with “absolute martial law” applicable to the capital.

Gov. James E. Ferguson of Texas

"Farmer Jim" Ferguson had been elected to a second term as governor in 1916, with support of prohibitionists. In his second term, he "became embroiled" in a dispute with the University of Texas. In 1917 a Travis County grand jury indicted him on nine charges; one charge was embezzlement. The Texas Senate, acting as a court of impeachment, convicted Ferguson on 10 charges. Although Ferguson resigned before being convicted, "the court of impeachment's judgment was sustained, preventing Ferguson from holding public office in Texas."

Gov. William Sulzer of New York

The New York Senate convicted Sulzer, a Democrat, of three charges of misappropriation of funds during the "Tammany Hall" era of New York politics. Tammany politicians, in the legislative majority, led the charge of diverting campaign contributions. Nevertheless, he was elected to the New York State Assembly a few weeks later and later declined the American Party's nomination for President of the United States.

Gov. David Butler of Nebraska

Butler, a Republican, was the first governor of Nebraska. He was removed on 11 counts of misappropriating funds that were targeted for education. He was found guilty of one count. In 1882, he was elected to the state Senate after the record of his impeachment was expunged.

Gov. William W. Holden of North Carolina

Holden, considered the most controversial state figure during Reconstruction, was instrumental in organizing the Republican party in the state. Frederick W. Strudwick, a former Klan leader, introduced the resolution calling for Holden's impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors in 1890; the House approved eight articles of impeachment. After a partisan trial, the North Carolina Senate found him guilty on six charges. Holden was the first governor impeached in U.S. history.