NYT: E-mails Indicate Deepening of Scandal Surrounding Sen. John Ensign

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While everyone’s been running around writing about former congresstickler Eric Massa, Eric Lichtblau and Eric Lipton of the New York Times spent some time digging further into a congressional sex scandal that actually involved some kind of corruption.

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.

Investigators are looking at a number of issues including whether Ensign aided Hampton in circumventing the one-year lobbying ban for staffers-turned-lobbyists. Considering that the F.B.I. is involved in the investigation, it is unlikely that the Senate Ethics Committee will rule on ethics violations against Ensign before the criminal investigation is complete.

On a related aside: I’m with Matt Yglesias here. If you’re a journalist covering Congress, particularly ethical malfeasance in Congress, why not spend some time covering scandals like Ensign’s or Charlie Rangel or the PMA Group (and why the Ethics Committee spiked the investigation)? Do we really need more information on tickle-parties and Eric Massa’s deranged sense of self-worth?

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