FBI, Ethics Panel Reviews New Email Evidence Against Sen. Ensign
March 11, 2010
(ChattahBox)— Disgraced Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), who was forced to admit having an extramarital affair with the wife of his best friend, both of whom worked as aides for Ensign, is now under investigation by both the F.B.I and the Senate ethics committee for improperly securing the husband of his ex-mistress a lobbying job, to lobby members of Congress. This is one of the few ethical investigations that have reached the level of possible criminal charges. And today, The New York Times is reporting that new emails have been turned over to investigators, evidencing Ensign’s efforts to secure lobbying clients for his former aide in violation of federal rules.
Sen. Ensign continues to deny that he violated any rules. Rebecca Fisher, the senator’s spokeswoman, says “Senator Ensign has stated clearly, he has not violated any law or Senate ethics rule.” But the new evidence at the very least, raises questions about improper contact with the husband of his ex-mistress, Doug Hampton. Congressional aides are barred from lobbying for a year after they leave their jobs.
According to The New York Times, investigators are examining whether Ensign assisted Hampton in breaking federal rules against lobbying:
“The one-year ban on lobbying by former Congressional aides applies mainly to the former employees themselves. But investigators are seeking to determine if Mr. Ensign helped Mr. Hampton flout the law, and whether the senator’s decision to pass Mr. Hampton information about P2SA’s proposals could constitute improper “contact,” even if it did not produce a job, several lawyers said.”
The emails show exchanges between Ensign, Hampton and P2SA Equity, a Las Vegas firm seeking Ensign’s assistance in its business interests. Ensign pressured the company to hire Hampton as a lobbyist, although ultimately, Hampton was not hired:
“The messages are the first written records from Mr. Ensign documenting his efforts to find clients for Mr. Hampton, a top aide and close friend, after the senator had an affair with his wife, Cynthia Hampton. They appear to undercut the senator’s assertion that he did not know the work might involve Congressional lobbying, which could violate a federal ban on such activities by staff members for a year after leaving government.”
Sen. Ensign’s possible ethical violations are certainly serious. Ensign’s office previously stated that the Senator’s efforts to secure Doug Hampton a job were “only recommendation calls” and that the senator’s actions in support of his former aide’s clients were “not at the behest of Mr. Hampton.”
See The New York Times for more.