Republican politician. A lawyer, he bacame senator for his native Wisconsin in 1946, and in 1950 caused a sensation by claiming to hold a list of about 200 Communists working in the State Department. He continued a "witch hunting" campaign until the enquiries against these officials were halted in 1954, when it was hown that McCarthy and his aides had been falsifying evidence.
By this time, however, many thousands of people in public life and the arts had been unofficially blacklisted as suspected Communists or communist sympatizers. He gave his name to the practice of McCarthism (making unsupported accusations).
In the early 1950's, opponents of Senator Joseph McCarthy began accumulating evidence of McCarthy's homosexuality. Several members of his staff, including Roy Cohn and David Schine, were suspected of having a sexual relationship.
McCarthy had appointed Roy Cohn to Chief Counsel of the Government Committee on Operations of the Senate. Cohn had been recommended by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who had been impressed by Cohn's prosecution of Julius and Ethyl Rosenberg. After Cohn was appointed, he recruited his best friend, David Schine, to be his chief consultant.
Soon rumors began to circulate that Schine, Cohn, and McCarthy were gay. Although these rumors were well-known to political journalists, they did not become public until Las Vegas Sun newspaper editor Hank Greenspun published them on October 25, 1952.
McCarthy considered a libel suit against Greenspun, but decided against it when he was told by his lawyers that if the case went ahead he would have to take the witness stand and answer questions about his sexuality. In an attempt to stop the rumors from circulating, McCarthy married his secretary, Jeannie Kerr. Later the couple adopted a five-week old girl from the New York Foundling Home. McCarthy died from cirrhosis of the liver.