Ethics committee hires special counsel in Ensign probe
February 1st, 2011
12:59 PM ET
12 years ago

Ethics committee hires special counsel in Ensign probe

Washington (CNN) - The Senate ethics committee announced the appointment of a special counsel to conduct its ongoing preliminary inquiry into allegations Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, may have violated Senate ethics rules in his dealings with a former staffer after Ensign had an affair with the staffer's wife.

The appointment comes about two months after Ensign announced that the Department of Justice told him he was no longer a target of its investigation into the matter and would not bring charges against him.

Carol Elder Bruce, an experienced former federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington DC, will head the probe. She has previously served as an Independent Counsel in the investigation of former Clinton Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and Deputy Independent Counsel in the investigation of former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese. She is currently a partner at the law firm of K&L Gates LLP.

"The purpose of a preliminary inquiry is to determine whether there is substantial credible evidence that a violation within the Committee's jurisdiction occurred," said a news release issued on behalf of ethics committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-California, and Vice Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia. "The possible responses after a preliminary inquiry are dismissal of the allegations, a letter of admonition, or, for more serious violations, an adjudicatory review."

Ensign has admitted to having an affair with Cindy Hampton, a campaign aide and the wife of Ensign's former chief of staff Doug Hampton. Investigators are looking into efforts by Ensign to assist the Hampton family by providing a nearly $100,000 payment to them, arranging lobbying work for Doug Hampton, and possibly meeting with Doug Hampton on a lobbying matter in violation of Senate rules.

Filed under: Congress • John Ensign
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    And if he was a Democrat, all the talking heads on Faux would be demanding his resignation! Where is their integrity on this one?

    February 1, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  2. Sgt Schultz

    If Ensign was a Democrat, he'd already be impeached by now. 100K personal check in "hush" money, sleeping with lobbyists...
    how much more flagrant does the corruption need to be before the Partisan nuts begin to accept reality? Always covering and laying smoke screen for your Partisan friends is intellectually dishonest...we the people are not amused.

    February 1, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  3. Protect and Defend Freedom of Speech in the USA

    Sounds like the Senate Democrats and Harry Reid playing dirty political games. Maybe the House Republicans should reopen the Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters investigations and vote for removal from the House? And why isn't the Justice Dept. investigating these people like they did Ensign? Dirty Democrat politics once again.

    February 1, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  4. Ricky L

    No corruption comments from the Tea Baggers?

    How surprising.

    February 1, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. Republicans = Fascists

    Where does Rep. Issa stand on this issue? This is corruption in it's purest form.

    February 1, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  6. Steve in Denver

    Can't this scum bag do the honorable (sort of) thing and resign? He and Vitter are two shining examples of the "family values" party; they plan to tell your family what to do and invade your bedroom with their so-called morality, while doing whatever they darn well please.

    February 1, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. Chas in Iowa

    That is so GOP of him.

    February 1, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. megan

    he is guilty as sin and he need to pay for it and they to take away his health care.

    February 1, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  9. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I wonder what will be found in this closet. Will this lead to his downfall?

    February 1, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |