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. Duck Fallas

    What about Van Jones and the death panel czars?

    October 2, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  2. Wake Up

    Good. Repub or Dem...they lie, they cheat, get them out now!! Party loyalty does citizens no good. Get Rangel and Dodd out too!

    October 2, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  3. Farrell in Houston

    Who else has Ensign paid off other than the Hampton family. This guy is dangerous to our national security and should be no where in politics.

    October 2, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  4. tony

    Another GOP hypocritical scumbag. I wish someone would just kill all of these lying, fat, racist, angry old white men....

    October 2, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  5. DickCheneyTheMadharchodh

    Ensign – why don't you resign

    October 2, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |


    in this relativistic culture who cares anymore. just ask letterman, and the audience, didnt they all laugh about his "affairs? who gives a crap anymore. to each their own isnt that the way liberal minds think?

    October 2, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. Dan

    "...tight lipped nature.... unclear what the Ethics Committe is probing." Well, well. Keep it up. The humor, of course.

    October 2, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  8. johnnie w

    John Ensign, thinks he has COVER and he can just WALTZ he way beyond his CORRUPT behavior. He is a CLOWN and watching this FOOL Of The (GOP) thinking we have forgot about what he did with this mans wife ,is what the so called HIGH MORALS GROUP does, YOU LIE, and CHEAT.He was so DISRUPTIVE in the Senate Hearing on Health Reform, he should be DISMANTLE from the SENATE. That SENATE seat in Nevada will be DEMOCRAT soon , we are WEARY of GOP LIARS, time to GO John Ensign ,ADDIOS CLOWN.

    October 2, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  9. Al

    Again, another example of those great GOP family values graces the pages of the media. Family values apparently include cheating on your wife and then bribing her family. Other examples include cheating on your wife by taking state funded trips to South America and interrupting the POTUS during a joint session of Congress.

    Bravo, GOP - the party of hypocrites, obstructionists and bigots!

    October 2, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  10. CHIPS

    This is one of the same repub. Sen. that will be voting on the health care reform. It's a sad day in AMERICAN.

    October 2, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  11. kaleto

    Apparently faithful politicians (and TV personalities) are the exception.

    October 2, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. Gee

    Who cares??? It would be interesting to know the life story of the hate bloggers that will comment on this.......I bet a huge percentage of them have fooled around on their partner at one time or another....move on to something important.

    October 2, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  13. Ms. Director

    He was probably just trying to get on Letterman.

    October 2, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. jeff milligan

    If Gingrich is going to quote Eisenhower, then can we go back to the 90% top tax rate that was the case when Ike was President? Healthcare?-PAID FOR...deficit? PAID FOR....

    October 2, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  15. indy

    too bad he wasn't a democrat he coulda got one of those ethics waivers from the big O ! he's handing those things out like crazy lol what a joke they actually call it and ethics waiver! lol

    October 2, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  16. timz

    "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.'"

    After all their talk about "family values" it's gratifying to see the Republicans step up and put cash on the barrel head. It just confirms the suspicion that all they value is money.

    October 2, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  17. Rick CT

    I'm sure he'll get the same fair and impartial treatment accorded Dodd.

    October 2, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  18. Duck Fallas

    Ensign had an affair with Charlie Rangel?

    October 2, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  19. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Thank goodness! A media distraction from the Olympics debacle.

    October 2, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |


    Apparent, 'Christian' haven for philanderers.

    You know, THOSE Christians.

    October 2, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  21. multnomah

    Don't care who has sex with who, as long as they're consulting adults.
    But hypocrites like these "family value" guys make me wonder about their character and what other values they change to suit their needs. How can we trust a hypocrite with policy making and voting issues that directly effect the American people? This can't be the first time this guy has shown a bad behavior and lack of good character traits.
    This is not a Republican , Democratic, or Independant issue but it is an issue of being a hypocrite and being a person that's character traits spill over into his work, we can't trust him.

    October 2, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  22. NH Independent

    The Senate Ethics committee should be investigating the SLUG Valerie Jarrett ...oh wait a minute she was given "Ethical Waiver"....only in an Obama Whitehouse.....

    October 2, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  23. Lila

    Dan, TX

    CNN does not post David Letterman news on the ticker because the ticker is under Politics. Not Entertainment. I could care less what some guy with a TV show does or says. But someone who is a part of our government breaking the law does interest me.

    October 2, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  24. mabel floyd

    another "family values" failure has been exposed to the snickers of the nation. one more hypocrite who boasted that when it came to moral values his crowd had the lead. c-street is exposed as the cult of hypocrites.

    October 2, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  25. GOPer

    The ethics investigation should include Ensign's close affiliate at "The Family" (Sen. Coborn) and the potential cover-ups of inappropriate behavior. For too long, the unethical secrecy has been allowed at C-Street hypocrisy. Enough.

    October 2, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
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