Ensign Ethics Case turned over to federal prosecutors

May 13, 2011, 09:17 by R.E. Christian

The U.S. Senate ethics panel said it has evidence of wrongdoing by ex-Sen. John Ensign, referring the case to federal prosecutors and the elections watchdog.

In letters sent to the federal agencies Thursday, the Senate Select Committee on Ethics said it had believed "Ensign and others violated laws" in trying to cover up an extramarital affair with staff member Cynthia Hampton that fall within the jurisdiction of the Justice Department and the Federal Elections Commission.

Besides forwarding the matter to the Justice Department and the FEC, the committee filed a report with the full Senate.

"Based on the record in this matter, the special counsel respectfully submits that there is substantial credible evidence that provides substantial cause to conclude that Sen. Ensign violated Senate rules and federal civil and criminal laws, and engaged in improper conduct reflecting upon the Senate, thus betraying the public trust and bringing discredit to the Senate," the report said.

The letters, signed by Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Vice Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said evidence indicated the Nevada Republican lied to the FEC, violated campaign finance laws and obstructed the Senate committee's preliminary inquiry. The committee said Ensign violated the federal one-year, cooling-off period laws when he helped his mistress' husband, Daniel Hampton, gain lobbying employment after Ensign dismissed the couple from his political and legislative offices.

Ensign, who maintains he violated no laws, resigned May 3, saying he couldn't subject his family, constituents or the Senate to an investigation. He was scheduled to appear before the committee May 4, but his resignation the day before ended the committee's ability call him in to testify.

Source: UPI