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. Deb

    the Republicans are a bunch of crooks. Ensign needs to resign.

    October 2, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  2. Kathy

    If all of these Politicians would spend half of the time they spend bad mouthing each other and spend it on solving the problems , we could be well on our way to fixing all these messes. When I really sit back and listen, I am so embarrassed for them. If they knew how childish and selfish they sound! It really is unbelievable! If I had my way I would fire every one of the complainers. They really don't deserve the position we have given them. My message to them; You are making a fool of yourself. We are sick of it. Get over it and get to work!

    October 2, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  3. multnomah

    What kinds of laws have been broken here? If John Ensign has broken a law he should be tried in court. This guy is a hypocrite, a liar, and of dubious character who struts his stuff as a upstanding, Christian, Family Values guy. He should be held accountable not because he is a Republican, or because he had sex with a consulting adult, but because he touts himself to be something he isn't and works big time on a cover-up with lots of money spent. The guy is a joke and so is his family that reportedly paid people off. Lots of material here for SNL

    October 2, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  4. Bill

    Lets see Rev. Wright, Bill Aryes, Van Jones and Acorn, what do they all have in common==========OBAMA, SICK.......

    October 2, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. Jeff in Houston

    Just one question Senator Ensign: How are you able to hold on to your Bible, NRA membership card, and envelopes of money from corporate America while you are trying to get your pants off?

    Where does the Republican Party get the unmitigated nerve to show their face in public anymore? Democrats are by no means perfect, but they are busting their butts to do something for the regular Joes and Janes of this country, and all you guys do is preach sermons and pose for the cover Hypocrisy Weekly. Will the Dem's make some mistakes? Yes. But at least they are trying!

    Sit down and shut up! The rest of us are attempting to clean up the mess George The Second left us with. Go sit in the corner and be primitiave to your hert's content, but the rest of us are trying to move forward!

    October 2, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. deb

    It's about time! This man needs to lose his job!

    October 2, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. Dar

    I love when you kool aid sippers think that the GOP is the only party with sex scandals. Wasn't the democratic president Clinton impeached for his little romp around with Monica??? Wait, IM sorry he said he didn't have sex with her, my mistake. Dorks. Wake Up!
    God Bless All

    October 2, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  8. Peter

    Family values.....I'd like to have his resignation in the next few days...Now if only Pelosi and Sanford would leave too...

    October 2, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. xavier

    Why is the Ethic committee not worried about Rangle? This is an ethical problem also.

    On the Beach in the Dominican Republic/Reuters – Rep. Charles Rangle,( D,NY), a 19 term veteran of Congress and a major player on the House Ways and Means Committee responsible for the administering of the US Federal Tax code
    , stated he wasn't aware the Code applied to him.

    I guess that is called the Geither defense.

    How odd, to say the least, that Mr. Geithner has had persistent tax filing and payment problems going back over 15 years involving self-employment taxes for both himself and his paid help, as well as with the employment of someone who for a time did not have proper legal status to remain in the country.

    How do we keep re-electing the same people? It is shameful.

    October 2, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  10. Randolph Carter, the real enemy of humanity

    Maybe he can hide out on C street. The "family" will protect him. After all, they were chosen by God to run this country. Have a nice day!

    October 2, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  11. LYNETTE IN CA

    WHAT TOOK SO LONG??

    October 2, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. johnny b

    Christian Family Values, Check... Following the Ethics of Office, Check...
    Probably get re-elected... Another corrupt law-maker in office. Priceless!

    October 2, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. Felonious Monk

    Term limits would limit the amout of time these criminals could spend in office. The criminals are on both side of the aisle, and any one who cannot see this is a fool.

    October 2, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  14. Duck Fallas

    WHOA.. it's fun to harrass conservatives- but some of these comments (one in particular) are WAY out of line. EASY....

    October 2, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  15. gt

    who does ensign think he is ... david letterman ?,,, sounds like dave was trying to break wilt chamberalin record with a 1000 staffers ...i mean women...

    October 2, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  16. Big Ed

    Hey, "Fair is Fair", the investigation is not about the affair, it is about using his influence to get her a job and clients based on his political relationships. Get it right or go home!

    October 2, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  17. Nevada dude

    Ensign is a joke. i am so happy he got caught in all his sanctimonious garbage. Some "Christian" he turned out to be.

    October 2, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  18. Bill

    Duck Fallas – the slander is equal on both sides, should read what the right wing says about obama. They're just trolls and should be ignored. How they get past CNN moderation is beyond me. I guess they really don't care.

    October 2, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  19. betty in Arizona

    TERM LIMITS. These sleaze bags are allowed to stay in office far to long. We keep voting them in, then gripe about the stuff they do and then say I will not vote for them again. If you didn't vote for them, they would not be there. Use your power at the ballot box. We the people are still the ones with the power, we have just allowed elected people to think they have the power by allowing them to remain in office to do THEIR bidding not ours.

    October 2, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. HJA

    Republican family values....Anytime, anyplace, anyone........there's always cash.
    All of you guys in DC, Democrats included.....Keep it zipped!

    October 2, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  21. GI Joe

    He's needs to be ousted from the Senate, and his buddy from Oklahoma that thinks neighbors should be doctors to the uninsured (he also advised Ensign on his mis-deeds) needs to be ousted also.

    October 2, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  22. how much investigation do you need?

    arrest the man

    his wrong doings were all over the front page

    gather the evidence, prosecute and be done with it

    October 2, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  23. Terry from West Texas

    It is my understanding that Jesus Himself has forgiven Ensign. Can we do no less?

    Ensign himself assures us that everything he did is not as bad as everything that Bill Clinton did. Why must your crucify this man?

    October 2, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  24. chuck

    It's about time. He pushed buttons for an illegal lobbyist. Not to mention the hush money. This was not a private matter altogether. This was as public as it gets in all the peripherals of the case.

    October 2, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  25. Rita

    Do all men who espouse "family values", (code words for anti-gay) have a mistress? It sure seems that way. Heterosexuals' arguments against gay marriage were never very strong and now they are tumbling like a fat girl on roller skates.

    October 2, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
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