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.
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Las Vegas Review-Journal's Steve Tetreault reports that embattled Sen. John Ensign "received an early Christmas present on Thursday, besides the news the Justice Department no longer is targeting him in a criminal probe." The gift? Guests said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gave Ensign a gift-wrapped bottle of Rogaine at their joint staff holiday party.
Washington (CNN) - Senator John Ensign's office says he's been told he's no longer a target of a federal grand jury investigation into whether he violated the law in an effort to cover up an affair he had with the wife of a former aide.
The two-term Republican admitted in June to an extramarital affair with Cindy Hampton, his onetime campaign treasurer. She is the wife of top aide Doug Hampton.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/18/art.ensign0318.gi.jpg caption=" At least one company and the NRSC have been issued subpoenas requesting documents in a federal grand jury investigation related to GOP Sen. John Ensign."]
Washington (CNN) - At least one company and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have been issued subpoenas requesting documents in a federal grand jury investigation related to Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada.
The Senate Ethics Committee also is investigating Ensign, who has been dogged by allegations of improper conduct stemming from an affair with the wife of a former aide. An Ethics Committee spokesman has declined to comment on precisely what its members are looking into.
A spokesman for the NRSC, which works to elect Republicans to the U.S. Senate, said the organization had received a subpoena related to Ensign.
Another NRSC official, general counsel Sean Cairncross, would not confirm that the subject of the subpoena was Ensign, but he noted that the 2008 election was cycle was the time when Ensign chaired the committee.
"NRSC has responded appropriately to questions concerning matters related to the 2008 election cycle timeframe," Cairncross said.
The U.S. Attorney's office had no immediate comment. Neither did Ensign's staff.
A source from one of the companies linked to the probe into Ensign's business dealings told CNN that the company had been issued a subpoena to produce documents to a federal grand jury.
The Department of Justice has issued subpoenas to at least six Las Vegas businesses as part of a criminal investigation into whether Nevada Sen. John Ensign used his influence to financially benefit a former aide, according to a Las Vegas television station.
CNN affiliate KLAS reports the DOJ issued several subpoenas March 8 as part of an investigation that arose after Ensign admitted to an affair with the aide's wife.
CNN has not yet independently verified this report.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/20/art.ensignthink0720.gi.jpg caption="Sen. John Ensign, himself no stranger to controversy, is breaking with other Republicans to defend his fellow Nevada Sen. Harry Reid."]Washington (CNN) - Sen. John Ensign, himself no stranger to controversy, is breaking with other Republicans to defend his fellow Nevada Sen. Harry Reid for describing President Obama as "light skinned" and "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."
"I think we need to get away from this politics of gotcha," Ensign told KKOH radio in Reno on Monday, according to the Associated Press.
"I don't think there's a person walking, certainly not a politician out there, that hasn't made comments they regret," he said in the interview. "When you make those comments, as long as you take responsibility for your comments and apologize for them, I think people should accept that."
Ensign suggested that Republicans are being hypocritical for calling on Reid to resign his post as Senate Majority Leader.
"Democrats were really wrong in what they did to Trent Lott, and we shouldn't do the same thing to Sen. Reid," Ensign said.
Lott lost his post as Senate majority leader in 2002 after saying that the nation would have been better off if one-time segregationist candidate Strom Thurmond had been elected president.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Embattled Republican Sen. John Ensign told CNN Tuesday he did not break Senate ethics rules by helping to secure a lobbying job for the husband of the woman he had an affair with.
"I think it's pretty clear. I said in the past, I recommended him for jobs just like I've recommended a lot of people," Ensign told CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash and congressional producer Ted Barrett. "But we absolutely did nothing except for comply exactly with what the ethics laws and the ethics rules of the Senate state. We were very careful in everything that we did. You can see our statements on that."
The comments come four days after The New York Times reported the husband of the woman Ensign had a affair with, Doug Hampton, has since lobbied the Nevada senator on behalf of his clients. The New York Times also reported evidence that suggests Ensign played an active role in getting Hampton the lobbying position. Hampton, a former senior aide to Ensign, is barred by congressional ethics rules from lobbying his old boss for one year after leaving his post in the Senate.
A preliminary Senate ethics investigation has been launched.
"All of these things will, you know, come out," Ensign told CNN. "All of these things will come out at their due time. But there's no question, we complied with all of the ethics."
Asked if he has any plans to resign his seat, Ensign said only: "I am focused on doing my work. I'm going to continue to focus on doing my work."
Ensign spoke with CNN as he walked from his office in the Russell Senate Office Building to the Capitol.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/04/art.sens1004.cnn.jpg caption="Sens. Kyl, a Republican, and Boxer, a Democrat, both had very little to say about the preliminary investigation into the conduct of Republican Sen. John Ensign that is going on in the Senate Ethics Committee."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The chair of the Senate Ethics Committee said Sunday that a preliminary investigation has begun into the conduct of Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign.
Ensign admitted earlier this year to an extramarital affair with a married campaign staffer. A recent report by the New York Times suggests that Ensign went to great lengths to aid the staffer’s husband, who also worked as an aide in Ensign’s Senate office, and, in the process, may have encouraged the possible violation of Senate rules regarding lobbying.
“I can’t discuss this with you other than to say that there’s a preliminary investigation going on,” California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer told John King on CNN’s State of the Union. “And we will look at all aspects of this case as we do whenever there’s a case before us and try to get to the bottom of it as quickly as we can in fairness to all.”
Asked about the specific issues the investigation is looking into, Boxer said she was not permitted by Senate rules to do so.
Asked whether Ensign could serve effectively with an ethics investigation pending, fellow Republican Sen. John Kyl of Arizona said he would “wait and see what happens” with the Ensign investigation.
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.