Getting out of the Senate didn’t help John Ensign stop the Senate ethics committee from reporting its findings, or from referring them to the Justice Department. Uh-oh…
From the Washington Post:
The Senate ethics committee has made a criminal referral to the Justice Department in its investigation into former Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), saying that its probe found that he had broken the law in his actions following his affair with a political aide.
“We had reason to believe Senator Ensign violated laws,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the chairman of the panel, said Thursday afternoon.
The ethics committee found that Ensign “aided and abetted violations of the one-year post-employment contact restriction; conspired to violate that restriction; made false statements to the Federal Election Commission; violated campaign finance laws; and obstructed the committee’s preliminary inquiry.”
The probe has taken nearly two years. Ensign resigned effective May 3rd.
The Ensign case has been unusual in many respects: His affair was with Cynthia Hampton, his political treasurer, while her husband, Doug, served as one of Ensign’s top aides on the legislative staff. Now, 10 days after his resignation, the investigation will end in even more unusual fashion with a public rebuke on the Senate floor by the ethics committee’s leaders.
In the past decade of investigations by the panel, its admonishments have always consisted of written statements that were either delivered privately to senators or posted on the committee Web site.
The committee will not be able to formally rebuke Ensign, because it lost its jurisdiction in the case once he left the Senate. However, it had several options, including a public summary of the findings that could include allegations of violations by Ensign.
It is taking the route of sending the evidence and testimony gathered in the case to the Justice Department, which has been conducting a parallel criminal inquiry.
The report could become uncomfortable for other Republicans, including Rick Santorum, a probable presidential candidate, who turns up in the report as having apparently tipped Ensign off that Fox News had wind of his affair. And Jon Ralston has been tweeting other tidbits from the report that could prove damaging to Coburn:
The ethics report clearly outlines Coburn’s role, not as Ensign’s OB/GYN, but as intermediary who would take $ offer “to the Ensigns.”‘
Coburn called $8M figure Hampton wanted “absolutely ridiculous.” Coburn talked several times to Ensign’s lawyer, advocated for new house…
Coburn to Ensign lawyer: “….Hamptons should receive an amount of money above and beyond that to start over….have some living money…”
Read the full report here.