October 2nd, 2009
01:59 PM ET
5 years ago

Senate Ethics Committee investigating Ensign

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Senate Ethics Committee is investigating Sen. John Ensign, and allegations of improper conduct stemming from an affair with the wife of a former aide.

"Whenever allegations of improper conduct are brought to the attention of the Senate Ethics Committee, we open a preliminary inquiry," committee spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz told CNN.

But, in keeping with the committee's tradition of secrecy, Ravitz went on to say that the "ethics committee doesn't comment on ongoing investigations."

Because of the tight lipped nature of the ethics panel, it is unclear exactly what the Ethics Committee is probing.


The Nevada Republican admitted in June to having an affair with Cynthia Hampton, the wife of former aide and long time friend Doug Hampton, who left Ensign's staff in 2008 in the wake of that affair.

Ensign's lawyer later released a statement on his behalf saying the senator's parents gave Cynthia and Doug Hampton $96,000, which they called a gift, "out of concern for the well-being of long time family friends during a difficult time."

In July, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a left-leaning watchdog group, formally asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate potential violations of ethics rules.

Now, a lengthy New York Times article has detailed efforts by Ensign to find Doug Hampton work with Nevada companies after he left Ensign's staff because of the affair. The article notes that Ensign was successful in helping Hampton sign on as a consultant to NV Energy and Allegiant Air, and says a review of records and interviews shows that Ensign and his staff coordinated with Hampton to push the companies' agenda in Washington.

Senate GOP sources, who did not want to be quoted on the record about the Ensign controversy, said they worried the efforts described in the article appear to show that Ensign may have facilitated relationships and work for Hampton that violate a ban on lobbying for one year after a Senator or aide leaves office.

The Senate Ethics Committee can and often does incorporate allegations in press reports into their investigations. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell refused to answer a number or questions from reporters Friday about the latest allegations and revelations about Ensign. "I don't have any observations to make about the Ensign matter today," McConnell said repeatedly as he sidestepped the questions. E-mails to Ensigns office for comment have not been returned.

In a statement to the New York Times, Ensign said "I am confident we fully complied with the relevant laws and rules governing current and past employees. I have worked on these Nevada issues with these Nevada companies for years, long before Doug Hampton left my office."


Filed under: John Ensign • Senate
soundoff (103 Responses)
  1. Joker

    Seems all these congressmen have trouble keeping their pants up these days.

    October 2, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  2. JonDie

    John Ensign should be issued an orange jump suit and put in the same cell with Polanski.

    October 2, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    The man paid his lover's husband and teenage son with republican money and then his parents gave his lover, her husband and two of their kids $96,000 to shut them up. What more needs to be known about the low-life stand "family values republican"?

    October 2, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  4. Willy Brown

    Rangel, Dodds and Franks roaming freely but nope got to burn a republican for something far lass of a crime.

    October 2, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. John

    Another Republican scandal! And a sex scandal at that.

    October 2, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. OBAMA IS A FAILURE

    So you invistigate this but dont invistigate The Rep. from New York with not paying the IRS taxes???? The democrats are really HYPOCRITES....

    October 2, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. Just Me

    All of this, but Rangel gets a pass. Just more proof that justice isn't blind.

    October 2, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. kj

    if they investigate as well as they have into Rangel.. well, that says it all

    October 2, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. Ben in Texas

    Every shady deal done by every shady politician of either party should be investigated, and the offenders should go to jail. However, there would soon be no senators left to do the investigating.

    The only force stronger than partisanship in Congress is the desire not to rock the gravy train.

    October 2, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  10. Bob in Pa

    Ridiculous, the Ethics Committee should investgate all Senators for possible violations. Unless there are signs of a specific violation, there should not be a violation. This is just a witch hunt to make Democrats and Harry Reid look better in the Nevada publics eye.

    October 2, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  11. yuri

    Investigation is a sheer waste of time. This sly dog schmuck, had audacity to abuse power, indulge in unscrupulous sex, and come back with renewed arrogance. He oughta be booted out mercilessly, forthwith.

    October 2, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  12. Texas Republican

    Hey, he's just following the wonderful example set by the Lion of the Senate, Ted Kennedy. Why don't they plan a monument for him?

    Oh, wait, I forgot. He hasn't killed anyone yet. Maybe later.

    October 2, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  13. Fair is Fair

    Let's see... ethics committee investigation of Ensign because of sex. No ethics committee investigation of Rangel for tax evasion.

    Yup. Priorities are in order.

    October 2, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  14. J.P.

    "Move on.org."

    I thought this was a private matter?
    Isn't that what liberals screamed about Bill Clinton?

    Oh, that's right... doing the hokey-pokey with the hired-help wasn't where he got in trouble and committed a felony... it was the perjury that got him in legal trouble.

    And so it will be with Ensign. I don't care who he consentually plays "hide the salami" with... But if he broke a law covering it up, then prosecute his lowly @$$.

    October 2, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. Big Ed

    Oops! Ensign is in trouble now! How are the Republicans going to try to blame this on President Obama?

    October 2, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  16. victim of republican greed

    What does he mean by 'relevant laws?'

    They should add Sern. DeMint to those being investigated for his undermining our efforts in Honduras. McConnell is the enabler in what might be called treason.

    October 2, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. cgillette369

    ensign's problem he had sex with a woman.
    if it were a man that would be OK.

    October 2, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    About time

    October 2, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. stormerF

    Ethics committee should be investigating Charlie Rangel.

    October 2, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. Tony

    How about concluding your investigation on

    RNAGEL
    DOD
    CONRAD
    ET AL

    October 2, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. worriedmom

    that's fine but when is something gonna be done with Charlie Rangel! I think his issues is greater. What a bunch of losers we have in D.C?

    October 2, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  22. carlos, THAT one

    didn't i said it yesterday???? and that t. perkins should go and hide his face about ten feet below ground,,,,,,such a hypocrite and EVIL

    Mr.Jennings STAYS and NO APOLOGIES of any kind, period.

    October 2, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. David Vitter, Larry Craig and Mark Foley were just the beginning

    McConnell is stonewalling to assist in the cover-up. If it were a Democrat you can be sure McConnell would be happy to comment. Even fellow C-Streeter Senator Colburn knows something very wrong happened here. Ensign and Vitter are embraced and protected by the GOP in an illegal, cynical, hypocritical and disgusting cover-up. This show, brought to you by the Self-Righteous Hypocritical Party of Family Values.

    October 2, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. Nothing 'Stand Up' about Sen John Ensign (R-NV)

    Ensign is saying that he's "confident [that he] fully complied with the relevant laws and rules governing current and past employees."

    Really?

    Since when does having sex with a married female employee comply with the moral uprightness and family values that the Republicans claim to represent?

    Where is the outrage from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and from Sean Hannity of Fixed "News"?

    October 2, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. Old Farmboy

    What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas... Yeah, right.

    October 2, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
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