WASHINGTON -- Former Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) violated campaign finance laws and conspired against lobbying laws while he was in office, leaders of the Senate Ethics Committee said on the floor of the upper chamber Thursday.
Ethics Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Vice Chair Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announced the findings of the committee’s two-year investigation of Ensign, who resigned earlier this month. Although the Ethics Committee cannot punish Ensign directly, the committee referred its report to the Department of Justice, which may make a criminal charge.
If he were still in the Senate, Ensign could have been expelled from office based on the charges, a special counsel told Boxer.
In a 68-page report released to the public on Thursday, the Ethics Committee accused Ensign of breaking the law to cover up an affair with his former campaign aide, Cynthia Hampton. The aide and her husband, Doug Hampton, who also worked for Ensign, were fired in 2008. Doug Hampton then took a job as a lobbyist and accepted $96,000 from Ensign’s parents.
The Ethics Committee found that Ensign attempted to obscure a lobbying law that prohibits former aides, like Hampton, from lobbying their former bosses within a year of leaving work as a staffer. It also found evidence that the former senator made false statements to the Federal Election Commission and violated campaign finance laws, according to the report.
“It is a cautionary tale,” Boxer said Thursday. “It shows that our actions -- all of them -- have consequences."
"We must assure that every action we take is within the rules," she added. "In my personal view, it shows something else, which is that if you are in a position of trust and power, don’t abuse it, because people will get hurt.”
Among the details in the report:
- ”The extramarital affair between Senator Ensign and Ms. Hampton began after the Hamptons moved into the Ensigns' home following” a burglary at their home.
Below, the report released on the Ensign investigation on Thursday.