Ethics reports evidence Ensign violated laws, sends case to Justice

The Senate Ethics Committee found "credible evidence" that former Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) broke the law when trying to cover up an affair with the wife of a former campaign aide, committee leaders announced Thursday. 

The committee voted unanimously on Wednesday to send its findings in an investigation of former Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Department of Justice because the committee had found “reason to believe Sen. Ensign violated laws within their jurisdiction,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said.

Boxer said the special counsel to the case had found Ensign’s actions to have been “so disturbing that she believed that had he not resigned the evidence of his wrong-doing would have been substantial enough to warrant the consideration of expulsion.”

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Ensign resigned last week. He was facing an ethics investigation over claims he violated Senate rules in the aftermath of an affair with Cynthia Hampton, the wife of former top aide Doug Hampton, whom he allegedly helped obtain a lucrative lobbying job.

Doug Hampton is facing federal charges that he violated a one-year lobbying ban imposed on former senior congressional staffers.

Boxer laid out the case against Ensign, saying the culmination of their investigation revealed credible evidence that Ensign had violated Senate rules or laws in eight ways:

  1. That Ensign had conspired to violate a post-employment contact ban for former congressional employees and lawmakers.
  2. That he had abetted an employee in violating that ban.
  3. That Ensign had made false and misleading statements to the FEC regarding $96,000 paid to the parents of the Hamptons in the aftermath of the affair.
  4. That the $96,000 paid to the Hamptons had violated campaign finance laws.
  5. That Ensign had violated a law and Senate rules prohibiting unofficial office finance accounts.
  6. That he had permitted “spoliation of documents” and engaged in potential obstruction of justice.
  7. That he had discriminated on basis of gender.
  8. That Ensign had engaged in improper conduct reflecting poorly on the Senate including and violating his own office policy written down in a manual.

The former senator cited the investigation in his resignation statement. At the time of Ensign's resignation, the committee leaders said the investigation would proceed.

Ranking member of the Ethics Committee Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) followed Boxer with remarks on the Senate floor.

Read the Ethics Committee's documents in the Ensign case: