Federal judge grants extension in US case against Ensign staffer

A federal judge pushed back the government’s case against Doug Hampton in light of new information revealed in a lengthy Senate Ethics Committee report last month on former Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.).

U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell of the District of Columbia said on Friday that, “given the complexity of the case and the volume of discovery,” it was appropriate for Hampton’s lawyers to be granted an additional 90 days to review the information that was used to write the 75-page Senate report.

Hampton is accused of violating a “revolving door” ban that prohibits former congressional staff from lobbying members of Congress for one year.

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According to the report — which was based on depositions or interviews with 72 individuals and 32 subpoenas — Ensign helped obtain clients for Hampton after he found out about the affair between his wife and the lawmaker and stopped working for the senator.

The government alleges that Hampton sought Ensign’s assistance in crafting a business deal between an energy company he was working for at the time and a Nevada power plant proposal.

Lawyers for the government said on Friday that the Senate Ethics Committee and its special counsel Carol Elder Bruce, who completed the report, have been working with prosecutors to turn over all of the pertinent information.

The committee reviewed more than 500,000 documents, some of which were already in the government’s possession, according to prosecutors. They said Hampton’s lawyers should have nearly all of the information by the end of July.

Bruce did not immediately return a request for comment.

Hampton, who lives in California, was not in court but was reached on the phone by Howell to confirm that he waived his right to a speedy trial by asking for an extension of the case. On speakerphone, Hampton said he did.

Friday’s court date was a continuance of Hampton’s initial arraignment in March, which was delayed for one week after his lawyer, A.J. Kramer, filed a motion claiming he could not afford transportation to Washington, D.C., from California.

The court approved the request for U.S. marshals to transport Hampton to D.C. for any court appearance, which will not likely be required until the end of the year, when Kramer and prosecutors begin to enter motions.

Kramer said he might ask for one additional continuance, of 30 or 60 days, which would push the case’s beginning to October at the earliest.