Sunrise (5/13/11)

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ETHICS COMMITTEE: ENSIGN BROKE LAWS

NYT: “Senator John Ensign’s top aide warned him in 2008 that his office might be breaking the law by helping a former staff member build up a lobbying business. The senator let out a long groan, then said they should help the former employee anyway, according to a remarkably detailed Senate report that urged the government to consider criminal charges against Mr. Ensign. … The report issued Thursday, a result of the most extensive Senate ethics investigation in at least two decades, describes the actions inside the senator’s office as he sought to manage the fallout from an affair with the wife of one of his former senior aides. … Perhaps seeking to cover up the wrongdoing, staff members deleted incriminating e-mails, and the senator himself may have lied under oath to thwart a separate investigation by the Federal Election Commission, according to the bipartisan report. … Mr. Ensign’s actions were so brazen and improper that had he not resigned last week he might have been the first senator expelled in nearly 150 years, said Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who is the Ethics Committee chairwoman.”

HuffPo: “Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) played a more active role than previously known in the negotiations between Sen. John Ensign and his former aide, Doug Hampton, according to a report released on Thursday by the Senate Ethics Committee that accuses the Nevada Republican of serious criminal violations. … Coburn, a friend of Ensign’s who confronted him about the affair, became involved as an intermediary in negotiations between Ensign and Doug Hampton, who sought money from the senator in spring 2009. The Oklahoma Republican negotiated the payment to Doug Hampton down from $8 million to about $2.8 million, according to the report. … Coburn’s involvement in the cover-up of the affair could lead to uncomfortable questions for the senator and his party going forward. While Ensign left the Senate hastily last week, Coburn remains an active figure.”

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