The Senate Ethics Committee has referred to the Justice Department and Federal Elections Commission conclusions that former Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., made false statements to the FEC, violated campaign finance laws, conspired to help his former aide Doug Hampton break a law against lobbying the Senate within a year of working there, and destroyed evidence.
Those are among eight charges made by the panel. The Justice Department already dropped a probe into Ensign, but the Ethics Committee, based on a Special Counsel’s report completed Wednesday, raises the prospect that DOJ and the FEC restart will probes.
The Special Counsel’s report says that “the concealment conduct in this case by Senator Ensign exceeded the normal acts of discretion and created a web of deceit that entangled and compromised numerous people, including a loyal Chief of Staff, was an abuse of the Senator's power, and raised serious issues of violations within the Committee's jurisdiction.”
The committee’s report follows Ensign’s resignation last week. Ensign got himself into trouble following an extramarital affair with an aide, Cindy Hampton, who is married to Doug Hampton. Ensign’s parents paid the Hampton family $96,000, drawing charges they made an illegal payoff. “These findings are so disturbing that she believed that had Sen. Ensign not resigned … that the evidence against Sen. Ensign would have been considerable enough to warrant consideration of expulsion,” Senate Ethics Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said. Boxer said the she believes Ensign violated the law and the Senate’s standards of conduct.
This article appears in the May 12, 2011 edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.
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