John Ensign tried to get a Las Vegas energy firm to hire his lover's husband as a lobbyist, according to new emails making the rounds at the FBI and a Senate ethics panel. The emails, which a source passed off to the New York Times, represent the first written evidence that Ensign tried to steer work to Douglas Hampton, a former top aide, and seem to belie Ensign’s insistence that he didn’t know the jobs would involve lobbying.
The emails detail a meeting between Ensign and the energy firm P2SA. At the meeting, Ensign brought up Hampton. “It was my understanding he was in the lobbying business,” a P2SA executive tells the Times. P2SA didn’t ultimately hire Hampton, but the emails show that they did offer Ensign campaign donations, apparently linking those donations to the senator’s help on some projects. Federal law forbids Congressional staffers from seeking lobbying jobs for a year, and lawyers say Ensign could be culpable if he helped Hampton flout the law.