Justice Dept. Drops John Ensign Probe

Affair didn't violate lobbying laws; Senate still investigating
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 2, 2010 9:39 AM CST
This Oct. 7, 2010 file photo shows Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. taking part in a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (Harry Hamburg)

(Newser) – The Justice Department is no longer targeting Sen. John Ensign in a criminal investigation arising from his affair with a former campaign aide and has no plans to charge him, attorneys for the Nevada Republican said yesterday. The department has been looking into whether Ensign conspired with staff aide Doug Hampton, the husband of the woman with whom Ensign was involved, to violate federal lobbying restrictions.

When Hampton found out about the affair, Ensign helped line up jobs for Hampton with campaign donors. Federal criminal law bars former Senate aides from lobbying in the Senate for a year after they leave their congressional jobs. At around the same time, Ensign's parents provided the Hamptons with $96,000 that they described as a gift. An Ensign spokesman said he was pleased with the Justice Department's decision, and said he hoped the Senate Ethics Committee would drop its probe, too. (Read more John Ensign stories.)

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