Senate Ethics Committee refers Ensign case to DOJ after finding he ‘violated laws’
The Senate Ethics Committee has come the conclusion that former Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and others broke a number of laws while trying to cover up an affair he had with a campaign staffer between 2007 and 2008.
“In the course of its inquiry, the Committee discovered information giving reason to believe that Senator Ensign and others violated laws,” the committee wrote in its referral to the the Department of Justice (PDF).
Evidence collected by the committee indicated Ensign and others “aided and abetted violations of the one-year post-employment contact restriction, conspired to violate the restriction, made false statements to the Federal Election Commission, violated campaign finance laws, and obstructed the committee’s preliminary inquiry,” they said.
The senator, who has served since January 2001, was a rising star in the party when he admitted to an extramarital affair in 2009. His parents reportedly wrote a $96,000 check to his former mistress and her family, leading to an investigation by the Federal Election Commission, which was later dismissed.
It was later revealed that Ensign may have violated Senate ethics rules by arranging for his former mistress’s husband to take a job as a lobbyist with a Nevada consulting firm in an attempt to hush the matter up.
Ensign, 51, a staunch conservative with a record of strong family-values stances, had vowed to remain in office after describing the affair as “absolutely the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life” at a news conference.
He resigned his seat effective May 3.
In a statement last month, Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and ranking member Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said the Senate Ethics Committee had “worked diligently for 22 months on this matter and will complete its work in a timely fashion.”
Talking Points Memo obtained the following preliminary report submitted to the committee Tuesday.
— with earlier reporting by Sahil Kapur and Eric W. Dolan