Press

PRESS
October 06, 2009

CREW Files Supplements to Complaints Against Senator Ensign

Senator John EnsignWashington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) provided additional information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, supplementing the complaints CREW filed against Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) in June based on activities surrounding his affair with a campaign staffer, Cynthia Hampton.

On June 16, 2009, Sen. Ensign confessed he had engaged in an affair with Ms. Hampton, his campaign and PAC treasurer, who was married to Doug Hampton, the Senator’s administrative assistant. A number of legal and ethics violations stem from that affair, which are detailed in CREW’s original complaint, found here.

Today’s letters provide additional information and note new possible violations stemming from Sen. Ensign’s conduct.

A New York Times October 2 story indicates Sen. Ensign illegally helped his former administrative assistant Doug Hampton violate a one-year lobbying ban and then assisted Mr. Hampton’s clients with their legislative agendas. The additional information details how Mr. Hampton failed to register as a lobbyist, and lobbied his former office before the end of the one-year cooling off period. Sen. Ensign assisted Mr. Hampton by finding lobbying clients for him and then meeting with those clients at Mr. Hampton’s behest. Mr. Hampton clearly violated the lobbying ban and Sen. Ensign appears to have conspired with him to violate the ban. Sen. Ensign also may have committed honest services fraud by contacting federal officials at the request of Mr. Hampton.

The New York Times story also refutes Sen. Ensign’s characterization of a $96,000 payment to the Hampton family as a gift from his parents. Mr. Hampton’s contemporaneous notes show the payment was intended as severance. It appears Sen. Ensign described the payment as a gift in order to avoid reporting the payment to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which might have forced him to explain it publicly.

The letter to the Senate ethics committee also asks that Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), who met with Mr. Hampton and at least one of his clients, Allegiant Air, be investigated for his role in helping Mr. Hampton violate the lobbying ban. CREW also asked the committee to investigate Sen. Coburn for lying to reporters when he categorically denied serving as an intermediary in the Hamptons’ efforts to secure restitution from Sen. Ensign. Sen. Coburn admitted to the Times that he brought Mr. Hampton’s request for a $2 million payment to Sen. Ensign, who rejected it.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said today, “To say that Sen. Ensign has shown himself unfit for office could be the understatement of the year. He has proved himself to be a philandering criminal disguised as a U.S. Senator. Sen. Ensign should be investigated by both the FBI and the ethics committee and the committee should also delve into Sen. Coburn’s role in the tawdry affair. The American people deserve to learn the truth about their elected representatives.”

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Derrick Crowe at 202.408.5565 or dcrowe@citizensforethics.org.

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