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Politicians often have certain eligibility criteria, and the dual citizenship saga in Australia has shown that sometimes they fail to meet those criteria.

I’m wondering whether a nefarious organisation could try to “blackmail” a politician by threatening to reveal information that proves they’re not eligible, unless some action favourable to that organisation is made. Is there any reason to think such attempts would be practical or impractical? Has any such attempt been made in the past?

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"Is there a reason ... it could be practical"?

Yes. It's an expressed concern in many cases. Notably:


As for cases of this happening,

  • the earliest one I found was highlighted by none other that V.I.Lenin in his article on "Political Blackmail":

    The blackmailing nature of the slanderous methods of the bourgeoisie may be illustrated best of all by an example which does not concern our Party, namely, the “affair” of the Socialist-Revolutionary Chernov. Some members of the Cadet Party, notorious slanderers headed by Milyukov and Hessen, trying to intimidate or expel Chernov, started a campaign, baiting him for his allegedly “defeatist” articles abroad, and for his association with persons supposed to have received money from German imperialist agents. The campaign gathered strength. It was taken up by all bourgeois papers.

    Afterwards the Cadets and S.R.s “came to terms” on a certain composition of the Cabinet. And lo and behold! The Chernov “affair” is dropped! It was dropped in a few days, without trial or examination, without publishing documents, without questioning witnesses, without presenting the decision of experts. When the Cadets were dissatisfied with Chernov, they began a slanderous “affair”. When the Cadets had come to terms politically with Chernov, at least for a while, the “affair” was dropped.

  • A while later, Indonesia's President Suharno would be blackmailed by both KGB and CIA over sex tapes, according to this article

  • CIA has recently released what was known as "Family Jewels" documents, some of which showed that mafia blackmailed CIA after unsuccessful plot to off Castro.

  • It's been revealed that FBI tried to break up MLK's marriage by revealing his infidelity (which surely counts as trying to influence policy, given ultimate goals of this).

  • This article alleges that Secret Service released secret info collected on Congressman Chaffetz when he was critical of USSS.

  • +1. But from a modern point of view it seems a bit counter-productive to have a policy of not hiring homosexuals because they are a blackmail risk. It would give an additional reason for employees to hide their orientation and would make these covert homosexuals an even larger blackmail risk, because getting exposed would also cost them their job. It might help to put this into the historic context. – Philipp Nov 27 '17 at 15:47
  • @Philipp - you are correct, but nobody ever said public policy makes sense or is logical or effective. – user4012 Nov 27 '17 at 15:53
  • From a 1950s point of view it was actually understandable. Being gay was a very, very bad thing back then. Just look at people like Alan Turing who got driven to suicide by attempts to "cure" his homosexuality. It really only seems strange when living in a modern world where the mayor of Berlin is threatened with having his homosexuality exposed and he responds by having a public coming out, becoming an LGBT rights proponent and even gaining popularity from this move. – Philipp Nov 27 '17 at 16:01
  • I'm omitting most of J.E.Hoover rumors since as far as I can tell none of them have been substantiated – user4012 Nov 27 '17 at 16:05
  • This answer seems to miss the question. It's not if it is possible to blackmail politicians. It's if it is possible to blackmail politicians over not being eligible to hold their current office. If you don't do what I want, I'll reveal your second citizenship Or prove that you were born in Jamaica, not Queens (NYC, NY, US). Or prove that you are only 24, not 35. – Brythan Nov 27 '17 at 18:36

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