Washington ethics group wants Sen. John Ensign’s parents added to investigationBy AP
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Washington ethics group broadens Ensign complaint
LAS VEGAS — A Washington watchdog group wants a federal agency to investigate whether Sen. John Ensign’s parents violated campaign finance law when they each gave his mistress $12,000.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington on Friday filed a supplementary letter with the Federal Election Commission. The group says the payments from Ensign’s parents to Cindy Hampton, a campaign aide and longtime friend, may have been severance payments. That would exceed the contribution limits for campaign and political action committees.
Earlier the liberal watchdog group sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for a criminal probe of the possible severance payment.
Ensign acknowledged last month that he had a consensual affair with Hampton from December 2007 through August 2008.
Last week the Nevada Republican said his parents, Michael and Sharon Ensign, gave Hampton and her family $96,000 in the form of a single check out of concern for their well being.
Messages left for Ensign’s Dallas-based attorney, Paul Coggins, and his spokesman, Tory Mazzola, were not immediately returned Friday.
Ensign’s attorney has said the money was a gift and did not come from campaign or official funds.
CREW alleged June 24 that Ensign violated the Senate’s ethics rules by engaging in an affair with Hampton, who was an aide and married to his administrative assistant, Doug Hampton, then terminating their employment.
The group also said Ensign violated ethics and campaign finance rules by failing to report a severance payment to the woman as an in-kind contribution from his campaign or leadership political action committee. It has filed complaints with the Senate Ethics Committee and the FEC, asking them to investigate.
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