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March 11, 2010

ENSIGN SEX SCANDAL WORSENS.... Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) doesn't want to talk about his sex scandal, but that hasn't stopped investigators from launching a probe. The controversy made the far-right senator look pretty bad before, but it appears the ongoing investigation is turning up even more damaging information.

Previously undisclosed e-mail messages turned over to the F.B.I. and Senate ethics investigators provide new evidence about Senator John Ensign's efforts to steer lobbying work to the embittered husband of his former mistress and could deepen his legal and political troubles.

Mr. Ensign, Republican of Nevada, suggested that a Las Vegas development firm hire the husband, Douglas Hampton, after it had sought the senator's help on several energy projects in 2008, according to e-mail messages and interviews with company executives.

The messages are the first written records from Mr. Ensign documenting his efforts to find clients for Mr. Hampton, a top aide and close friend, after the senator had an affair with his wife, Cynthia Hampton. They appear to undercut the senator's assertion that he did not know the work might involve Congressional lobbying, which could violate a federal ban on such activities by staff members for a year after leaving government.

The e-mail messages also hint at what Mr. Ensign's office now says was an effort by the Las Vegas firm, a small energy investment business called P2SA Equity, to improperly link Mr. Ensign's possible assistance to a promised donation.

If you're just joining us, Ensign's humiliation came to public attention in June, when we learned the conservative, "family-values" lawmaker carried on a lengthy extra-marital affair with one of his aides, who happened to be married to another one of his aides. Ensign's parents tried to pay off the mistress' family.

The scandal grew far worse in October, when we learned that the Republican senator pushed his political and corporate allies to give lobbying contracts to his mistress's husband. When Douglas and Cynthia Hampton left Ensign's employ -- because, you know, the senator was sleeping with Cynthia -- Ensign allegedly took steps to help them make up the lost income, leaning on corporate associates to hire Douglas as a lobbyist. These new emails bolster the allegations.

There are laws prohibiting aides from lobbying for a year after leaving the Hill, but Ensign and the aggrieved husband seemed to ignore the rule, and the senator used his office to cater to the needs of those who hired his mistress's spouse.

I'm well aware of the IOKIYAR rule, but I nevertheless have a hard time imagining how Ensign survives this scandal politically. Having sex with an aide, after running on a family-values platform, is merely humiliating. But the far-right Nevadan, as part of an apparent effort to clean up a personal scandal, seems to have broken a few laws -- and left a paper trail to prove it.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Comments

Rule #1, don't plot crimes by email, you never know who will end up reading it.

Posted by: dr2chase on March 11, 2010 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

It's time the right had something to worry about, they have tried without success to make Massa the crime of the century!

Posted by: Joan on March 11, 2010 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) doesn't want to talk about his sex scandal, but that hasn't stopped investigators from launching a probe.

I apologize most sincerely, but the sixth-grader in me just can't let that go.

Posted by: chrenson on March 11, 2010 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

Slightly OT, we gotta get a better word than "mistress." It's 2010. Wouldn't "lover" do, or should we go for something new and sparky?

Posted by: shortstop on March 11, 2010 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

P.S. If Harry Reid keeps his seat, Ensign's departure will be the only reason. But I think shameless John is a long way from stepping down.

Posted by: shortstop on March 11, 2010 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't there a law that for Republican members of Congress the statute of limitations concerning offenses involving their sex drive is a nanosecond?

Posted by: eserwe on March 11, 2010 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

Doesn't matter, he's a republican. That makes all a forgivable offense.

Posted by: msw on March 11, 2010 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

Shortstop: "But I think shameless John is a long way from stepping down." Well, it's not like he's a democrat or something else equally immoral. (/snark) As long as you take every opportunity to moan about other people's values and praise god a lot, it's astounding how much you can get away with. Ensign's influence peddling and rule breaking absolutely deserve jail time for gross abuse of office and violation of the public trust. Adding to the chorus here, where are the republicans willing to take a stand against corruption when the perpetrator is a fellow republican?

Posted by: N.Wells on March 11, 2010 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

Ensign's constituency won't give a flying fig newton about this; the mentality being, of course, that anything is better than a Dem. So---the effort should be viewed from the standpoint of legal ramifications. Has he done anything that could conceivably strip him of his office as a Senator and land him in jail?

Posted by: S. Waybright on March 11, 2010 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

Hard to survive a scandal, no matter how Republicanny you are, when you're in a jail cell. But maybe he'll get his own TV show out of it.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on March 11, 2010 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

have to disagree with your header. it ought to read "ensign sex scandal gets better".

Posted by: mellowjohn on March 11, 2010 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, Steve.... Wrong again. Ensign will be just fine. Ask David Vitter.

Posted by: mikeg on March 11, 2010 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Not entirely on topic, but I just have to wonder about the conversation Ensign had with his parents. How do you ask Mom and Dad to deliver hush money?

And deliver it to your mistress, or maybe her husband!

Wouldn't you have loved to be a fly on the wall for those conversations?

Posted by: zak822 on March 11, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Who's going to pursue this...the Senate "Ethics" Committee.....bwaaaaahhaaaaaa!???

I see a sternly worded letter any day now.

John Conyers wife just got three years. If it had been Conyers himself? Nothing to see here...move along.

Posted by: dweb on March 11, 2010 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Nothing here. Time to move on!

If he was just another Jesus hating, anti-Christian from the democrat party, this would be a real issue. As our beloved Senator Ensign is a born again Christian, he has asked God for forgiveness. As such, he has received forgiveness and can put this unfortunate issue behind him.

In reality, this was probably just another frame job by the democrats. As evil incarnate, they continuously provide temptations to God fearing, Jesus loving republicans. Fortunately, the salvation of our lord is extended to republicans who pray for forgiveness at the foot of the almighty Pat Robertson.

Time to move on and put this non-issue to rest!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on March 11, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

It's time the right had something to worry about, they have tried without success to make Massa the crime of the century!
Posted by: Joan on March 11, 2010

Hmmmmm... not if the MSM has their way. When I tuned into the Today Show this morning Massa was all the rage. They seemed very excited about this "developing" story and were covering it from all the angles. I've never heard Ensign's name mentioned once on that show. Ever. Now I admittedly missed the first few minutes of this morning's show, so maybe the Ensign story was mentioned for "fairness and balance" shortly before, but I'd bet a buffalo nickel that wasn't the case.

Posted by: oh my on March 11, 2010 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Not entirely on topic, but I just have to wonder about the conversation Ensign had with his parents. How do you ask Mom and Dad to deliver hush money?

Something tells me Mom and Dad have been buying Junior's way out of scrapes for 50-odd years.

Posted by: shortstop on March 11, 2010 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

How will he survive it? Simple. Tearfully invoke JEEBUS, claim he's been forgiven, and that's that.

Posted by: T-Rex on March 11, 2010 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

How do you ask Mom and Dad to deliver hush money?

Well of course Mom and Dad were disappointed. After all, they had thought that this seat in the Senate would make John grow up. But then it wasn't the first time that they had to bail Johnny out, and you know, if you don't clean up after them, it's bad for the family name

Posted by: eserwe on March 11, 2010 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

How will he survive it? Simple. Tearfully invoke JEEBUS, claim he's been forgiven, and that's that.

Posted by: T-Rex on March 11, 2010 at 10:07 AM

Exactly right! Add to that the media, who will politely ignore the unpleasantness (after all, he is a God-fearing Republican, don't you know!) and in a week it'll be like it never happened. And his constituents will probably vote him back in.

Posted by: electrolite on March 11, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

I understand the cynicism, but this is a lot thornier for Ensign than a lot of you seem to realize. Sure, his extreme right-wing constituents won't care. But Ensign has (allegedly) broken federal law. Even "Diaper Dave" Vitter didn't do that; he was involved with a prostitute, which, unless I'm mistaken, isn't against federal law. State law, yes (depending on the state), but not federal.

And this time, we don't have a politicized right-wing DOJ ordering the US Attorneys to ignore republicans and focus on democrats. The FBI are involved in this now, and unless those emails they've found end up not proving anything after all, Ensign could easily face federal charges for this.

Posted by: Shade Tail on March 11, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

"gotta get a better word than 'mistress.' It's 2010. Wouldn't 'lover' do, or should we go for something new and sparky?"
Posted by: shortstop on March 11, 2010 at 8:13

"slut"?

(ducks, scampers off stage left -- and PLEASE don't tell the Panadagonians I said that; they got kelvin-zero sense o' humor over there when it comes to certain issues)

Posted by: smartalek on March 12, 2010 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

Спасибо понравилось !

Posted by: Free on December 1, 2010 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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