October 2nd, 2009
01:59 PM ET
9 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. Jilli

    Oh, c'mon, this fine Christian and C Street resident would never do anything inethical.

    I wonder if his parents will try to bail him out of this one too.

    October 2, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  2. Beverly in NC

    What a shock – a corrupt hypocritical Republican – imagine that!

    October 2, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I smell an ethics violation along with a criminal one. Sen. Ensign is in deep doo-doo.

    October 2, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Don't these politicinas know that the cover-up is worst than the crime?

    October 2, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  5. awaitingmoderationby CNN

    This is good news, even for a conservative Republican, provided of course that the Senate makes an effort to root out all of this stuff even if it involves a Democrat (e.g. Dodd and his special treatement from Countrywide, Reid and his land deals, Boxer and all of the weird things she says and does). Unfortunately, they won't, and it comes across as just another hyper partisan attack by the libs. Nancy Pelosi, the Botox of the House, has yet to complete an ethics investigation of Charlie Rangel that has been going on for over a year now, even though Charlie has admitted to cheating on his taxes. Of course he blamed it on racism.

    October 2, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. Nothing 'Stand Up' about Sen John Ensign (R-NV)

    We knew that Ensign was a sleazy adulterer.

    And we knew that Ensign was willing to get his parents to help him take care of his mistress's family for him.

    Then, as we watched Ensign smugly and arrogantly help to derail the 2 public health insurance option plans that were before the Senate Finance Committee this week, so many of us just shook our heads at how shameless and morally bankrupt he is.

    Now it turns out he might be a sleazy criminal.

    So many self-righteous Republicans are gifts that just keep on giving!

    October 2, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  7. truthsayer

    Why not significant press coverage on Ensign CNN?.

    October 2, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  8. Tim

    And we'll see the invesitgation of Rengal and Dodd when? And of Van Jones when?

    October 2, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  9. single mom

    When is someone going to start investigating RANGEL???

    October 2, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  10. Jeff in Virginia

    This is great and all, holding Ensign responsible for his hypocrisy.

    What I want to know is this; there is a breaking story about Boehner making the ludicrous statement that he is "still trying to find the first American to talk to who's in favor of the public option". Why haven't you covered that?

    October 2, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  11. mike,texas

    The New republican hypocratic party keeps on tick'n

    October 2, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  12. CAL

    The dishonest men of the GOP are pathetic. They spend most of their time in court over something illegal than they do actually representing their constituants. Why would anybody trust this loser and the rest like him. They have the art of lying down, all of the GOP do. This is the biggest embarrasment to our country, the men and women who call them self the lawmakers of it. They need to stop worring what President Obama is doing and keep their dirty little secrets hidden. What a bunch of bozo's

    October 2, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  13. Ken

    Good grief, even after the dramatic thinning they took because of the 2008 election, one still cannot take a dump in DC without hitting the head of a corrupt, unethical [R] politician!

    October 2, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  14. andrea

    It's about TIME!!!

    October 2, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  15. Preco

    This guy is a joke!

    October 2, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  16. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    A Republican involved in a tawdry sex scandal? A Republican being duplicitous and hypocritical? Next thing people will say one will be caught playing footsies in a men's bathroom stall. Wait......never mind!

    October 2, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  17. Justin

    It is about time....

    October 2, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  18. LacrosseMom(stuck in moderation)

    Interesting........ WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE FROM THE GOP-holier-than-thou-family-values crowd?

    The GOP do not seem to know that "people who live in glass houses should not throw stones"!

    October 2, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  19. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    First Ensign sets the husband up as a lobbyist and then gets favors for him using his Congressional contact?

    You betcha, you just got to love those neo-con Fable Followers and their "family values"!

    If this is a good example of "christian" values, then come Judgement Day, these elitist heathen will be glad to stand apart from this crowd!

    October 2, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  20. Paul from Phoenix

    This is not a GOP problem. This is a CONGRESSIONAL problem. All these guys think they are above the law.

    And if Ensign goes down for $96,000, the Rangle better go down for $600k.

    October 2, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  21. Annie, Atlanta

    It's about darn time!

    October 2, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  22. TH - ATL

    All of them including the democratic ones!

    October 2, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  23. Dan, TX

    CNN, why don't you bring in David Letterman news here. I want David Letterman to resign immediately or CBS must fire him. He has been a bad example to our society all along.

    October 2, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  24. We Won Get Over It

    He is a republican...they won't do anything...remember rove, bush and cheney. And vitter and the rest of the crooked bunch...oh but they can whine and moan and slur a democrat and try to pin a lie on him.\\

    Where's beck....where's beck....why isn't he slamming and flaming this guy...why isn't HE asking for an investigation..I guess the air brained piece of you know what doesn't have the guts to go after a real crook...he only goes after innocent and honest people. Democrats.

    October 2, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  25. Lila

    Good. He SHOULD be investigated. There are a LOT of shady things happening in regards to this situation...

    October 2, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
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