Former aide to Sen. Ensign indicted

A former aide to retiring Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of violating conflict-of-interest laws.

The Justice Department announced the indictment late Thursday, which charges Doug Hampton with seven counts of violating criminal conflict-of-interest laws for allegedly engaging in unlawful communication with Ensign's office, violating the Senate's "revolving door" policy.

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According to the indictment, after Hampton left Ensign's office in 2008, he "knowingly and willfully made, with the intent to influence, communications to staff members of the U.S. senator" on behalf of an energy company he was employed by at the time.

Hampton is alleged to have sought the assistance of Ensign and other staff members for help in moving forward a proposal to build a power plant in eastern Nevada. 

If convicted, Hampton could face up to five years in prison for each of the seven counts in the indictment. He is set to be arraigned in U.S. district court in Washington on March 31.

Ensign announced his retirement earlier this month, saying he didn't want to put his family through an "ugly campaign" that would have focused on his admitted affair with Hampton's wife, Cynthia. 

The Senate Ethics Committee is still investigating the Nevada Republican for allegedly helping Hampton land work as a lobbyist after he left Ensign's office in 2008. DOJ announced last year it would not investigate Ensign in that matter.

After Ensign announced he wouldn't run for another term in 2012, Hampton blasted his former boss in a statement, calling on him to resign. Hampton said Ensign's decision to remain in the Senate "prolongs the pain and anguish he caused" by his affair with Hampton's wife.

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