Boxer Confirms Ethics Inquiry Into Ensign

Posted October 4, 2009 at 9:39am

Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) Sunday acknowledged that her panel has opened an investigation into whether Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) broke the chamber’s rules when he helped a former aide line up a lobbying job and then steered clients his way.

Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, Boxer refused to comment specifically on the scandal, which stems from Ensign’s affair with Cynthia Hampton, a former campaign aide who is married to former top Ensign aide Doug Hampton. “There’s a preliminary investigation going on and we’ll look at all aspects— of the scandal, Boxer said.

Taking a cue from Boxer, Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) declined to comment, saying he prefers to “wait and see what happens— with the investigation.

The New York Times this week reported that when Doug Hampton left Ensign’s office, the Nevada lawmaker helped him land a lobbying job and then stocked him with clients — who are among the top donors to Ensign’s campaign.

It is alleged that Ensign and his aides then helped secure federal funds for those clients, all while knowing Hampton was violating the Senate’s one-year lobbying ban for aides.

Ensign helped line up the job for Doug Hampton while he was still having an affair with his wife. Ensign admitted to the extramarital relationship this summer, and later revealed that his family paid the Hamptons “gifts— of nearly $100,000.