Senate might have expelled Ensign if he hadn’t resigned

posted at 4:52 pm on May 13, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Republicans narrowly avoided another electoral disaster in Nevada when John Ensign abruptly resigned from the US Senate.  Late yesterday, the Senate Ethics Committee revealed their report on Ensign, which details not just broken rules of the upper chamber but evidence that Ensign committed felonies in trying to cover up his affair with the wife of a lobbyist.  The charges were serious enough to warrant expulsion, Barbara Boxer claimed:

The 68-page report was not only explosive in its conclusions — it alleges Ensign violated Federal Election Commission rules and campaign finance law and obstructed the Ethics Committee investigation. It was salacious in detail, alleging an almost obsessive pursuit by Ensign of Cindy Hampton, a former aide, and his attempts to pay off Hampton’s family as part of what the ethics panel called a “web of deceit.”

The committee referred the findings to the Justice Department and the FEC to investigate the possible violations.

“These findings are so disturbing … that had Sen. Ensign not resigned and had we been able to proceed to that adjudication, that it would have been substantial enough to warrant the consideration of expulsion,” Ethics Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said on the Senate floor.

Since 1789, only 15 senators have been expelled from the body — and 14 of those were charged with supporting the Confederacy during the Civil War. Other senators like Ensign have resigned to avoid potentially harsh sanctions by the committee.

Be sure to read through the whole Politico report, which is shockingly tawdry and disturbing.  It’s tawdry to the extent that Ensign pursued this affair despite multiple interventions by family and friends, and despite the public wreckage that began to mount. One colleague had to tell him that he knew exactly where Ensign was and with whom, and that he should “pull on his pants” and go home.

It’s disturbing in the extent that Ensign abused power to continue the affair and to keep it quiet.  His paramour’s husband used to work for Ensign, but after the affair got exposed, Ensign set him up as a lobbyist and allowed him to lobby Ensign, a violation of federal law.  He also made tens of thousands of dollars in payments to Hampton to set up his business and to keep him quiet.  In at least one case, Ensign intervened with the Department of Transportation to benefit a client of Hampton’s, which should be grounds for prosecution as well as grounds for expulsion.

Thankfully, Republicans have Dean Heller filling out Ensign’s term, but that may not be enough to separate the GOP from the stench.  Heller should be a strong candidate to run for the office on his own in 2012, but expect Democrats to come out gunning for Heller with Ensign’s track record in the general election.

And now that we’ve finally seen the corruption in which Ensign engaged in the Senate, when do we get to hear about Maxine Waters’ efforts to benefit her family’s investment in OneUnited from the House Ethics Commitee?


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To criticize Waters is racist.

unclesmrgol on May 13, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Why not expel Bwaney Fwank?

Oh yeah.. no (R) behind the name.

upinak on May 13, 2011 at 4:56 PM

And now that we’ve finally seen the corruption in which Ensign engaged in the Senate, when do we get to hear about Maxine Waters’ efforts to benefit her family’s investment in OneUnited from the House Ethics Commitee?

Or Diane Feinstein’s to benefit her husband, by the millions, with audits of Medicare…then was found out…then opened a business under a different name. He/she are milking the taxpayers to the same tune. She’s gone under the radar a bit, become more tacit, but the bank accounts are doing superbly.

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Will he still recieve all the benefits a former senator is entitled to?

fourdeucer on May 13, 2011 at 4:57 PM

And now that we’ve finally seen the corruption in which Ensign engaged in the Senate, when do we get to hear about Maxine Waters’ efforts to benefit her family’s investment in OneUnited from the House Ethics Commitee?

You can bet we will hear about this in 2012. The Democrats got a lot of milage out of the two other oddly sexed Republicans in 2006.

Odd how the corruption in Democrats seems to stem from money and with Republicans lately at least it is sex.

We are going to have to push Waters and Rangel… which is more germain to their jobs anyway.

petunia on May 13, 2011 at 4:58 PM

Thankfully, Republicans have Dean Heller filling out Ensign’s term, but that may not be enough to separate the GOP from the stench. Heller should be a strong candidate to run for the office on his own in 2012, but expect Democrats to come out gunning for Heller with Ensign’s track record in the general election.

Yeah, cuz that worked out great in Connecticut when Dodd stepped aside. As long as Heller doesn’t do anything stupid, he’ll retain the seat. The Dems will have too many of their own seats to defend to worry about a desperate attempt to link Heller to Ensign.

Doughboy on May 13, 2011 at 4:58 PM

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Or Pelosi? And her and Hubby’s interesting business venture?

crap we could go on and on.

upinak on May 13, 2011 at 4:59 PM

No leftie examples are meant to excuse Ensign’s actions.

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2011 at 4:59 PM

Or Diane Feinstein’s to benefit her husband, by the millions, with audits of Medicare…then was found out…then opened a business under a different name. He/she are milking the taxpayers to the same tune. She’s gone under the radar a bit, become more tacit, but the bank accounts are doing superbly.

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2011 at 4:57 PM

She is good at covering her tracks, it is a shame.

petunia on May 13, 2011 at 4:59 PM

I’m sick and tired of Republicans resigning in disgrace (though they should) but Democrats like Rangel, Waters, Dodd and Jefferson hang on like grim death. Why don’t they get expelled? Oh that’s right their constituents don’t give a …

Boxer would never have released a salacious report on one of her Dem buds huh…

CCRWM on May 13, 2011 at 5:02 PM

But they keep Dingy “Land Deal” Harry, Dick “Lied About His Service” Blumenthal, and Al “We Found Ballots!” Franken.

And the House keeps the impeached federal judge, Maxine “Most Corrupt in Congress” Waters, Charles “Can’t Pay His Taxes” Rangel, and the rest of the corruptocrat collection.

amerpundit on May 13, 2011 at 5:04 PM

chris dodd, Maxine waters, Rangel, etc…

rob verdi on May 13, 2011 at 5:04 PM

So this guy let Ensign screw his wife for Money?

What a complete A$$.

portlandon on May 13, 2011 at 5:05 PM

And now that we’ve finally seen the corruption in which Ensign engaged in the Senate, when do we get to hear about Maxine Waters’ efforts to benefit her family’s investment in OneUnited from the House Ethics Commitee?

*chirp…chirp..chirp…*

KeepOhioRed on May 13, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Ugh, if half of these charges are true this guy is one sleazeball.

Men and our penises…can’t live with ‘em and can’t live without them.

Well, some guys.

SteveMG on May 13, 2011 at 5:06 PM

I’m sick and tired of Republicans resigning in disgrace (though they should) but Democrats like Rangel, Waters, Dodd and Jefferson hang on like grim death. Why don’t they get expelled? Oh that’s right their constituents don’t give a …

Boxer would never have released a salacious report on one of her Dem buds huh…

CCRWM on May 13, 2011 at 5:02 PM

Because we actually have standards. The Democrats look the other way no matter what their politicians do which might temporarily allow them to retain seats they should otherwise lose, but long-term it’s gonna destroy their party. It’ll be a cesspool of corrupt politicians, thuggish special interests, and ill-informed and braindead supporters.

Just look at the embarrassing display in Madison during those union protests. You think that’s a good thing for those folks to be the face of the Democrat Party?

Doughboy on May 13, 2011 at 5:06 PM

When Republicans screw up and get caught, they resign. When Democrats screw up and get caught, they circle the wagons and have pep rallies. Nothing new here, move along…

joejm65 on May 13, 2011 at 5:07 PM

When do we get to hear about Boxer and her Indian casino? The one her son helped broker the land and the deal? The one where he made about $8,000,000?

Dominion on May 13, 2011 at 5:09 PM

And now that we’ve finally seen the corruption in which Ensign engaged in the Senate, when do we get to hear about Maxine Waters’ efforts to benefit her family’s investment in OneUnited from the House Ethics Commitee?

exactamundo….

*crickets chirping* from the lsm…but they sure were giddy talking about this snafu…

cmsinaz on May 13, 2011 at 5:18 PM

What an ingominious end to a career.

cynccook on May 13, 2011 at 5:19 PM

CCRWM on May 13, 2011 at 5:02 PM

not in a million years…

cmsinaz on May 13, 2011 at 5:19 PM

Ensign declined the offer, prompting an angry Hampton to alert Fox News to the sordid affair. When former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), then a contributor to the station, learned of Hampton’s efforts, he tipped off Ensign. The Nevada Republican assembled his staff for a late-night meeting in June 2009, and announced the affair at a Las Vegas news conference the following day.

Hmmm. Probably not the best bit of PR for a presidential candidate running on family values. I see Coburn was an intermediary in the buy off attempts. What a mess!

a capella on May 13, 2011 at 5:20 PM

One colleague had to tell him that he knew exactly where Ensign was and with whom, and that he should “pull on his pants” and go home.

must be that same thing that makes a hound dog howl all night

must be that same thing that makes a preacher put his bible down.

oh that same thing..the whole worlds fighting ’bout that same thing.

DrW on May 13, 2011 at 5:34 PM

And yet? Charlie Rangel the crook still smiling his crooked smile. Shameful.

scalleywag on May 13, 2011 at 5:35 PM

Wait… I thought that a felony committed in the course of covering up an affair was “only about sex” and therefore not a big deal.

Hollowpoint on May 13, 2011 at 5:36 PM

The fact that there is a double standard does not excuse John Ensign…

… but can we truly ponder the crimes committed by the Political Elite Ruling Class who consider themselves above any law?

What about the architects of social engineering policies that have the unintended consequence of destroying countless lives and life long investments…?

… If only we had a ‘Free and Independent’ way of informing the public to keep those in power in check and prove to all that no one is above the law.

Oh, wait…!

Seven Percent Solution on May 13, 2011 at 5:49 PM

All he had to do is drive off a bridge with her, and leave her to suffocate. He’d be lionized.

rightside on May 13, 2011 at 5:49 PM

Now is a good time to discuss pensions for these slugs. I say, take away his pension and the pensions of all Senators and Representatives (and staffers) past and present.

Zorro on May 13, 2011 at 5:53 PM

Good Riddance. Now we can focus on the prosecution of John Edwards.

Valiant on May 13, 2011 at 5:57 PM

@sswipe.

Good Riddance.

Tim_CA on May 13, 2011 at 6:28 PM

Amazing, isn’t it, how only Republicans seem to have these embarrassing sex scandals.

The Democrats never do it, because they’re so upright and stuff.

I’m fully certain that just as many Ds as Rs engage in this sort of thing. But it’s only news when it’s an R. Funny how that works.

tsj017 on May 13, 2011 at 6:36 PM

Politicians are mostly scumbags.

Jaibones on May 13, 2011 at 7:24 PM

Kirk Lippold for Congress in Nevada!!

Khun Joe on May 14, 2011 at 12:34 AM

Amazing, isn’t it, how only Republicans seem to have these embarrassing sex scandals.

The Democrats never do it, because they’re so upright and stuff.

I’m fully certain that just as many Ds as Rs engage in this sort of thing. But it’s only news when it’s an R. Funny how that works.

tsj017 on May 13, 2011 at 6:36 PM

Obviously because even the most reprehensible Democrat does, after all, have the best interest of the Little People, Brown People, trees, whales, baby fur seals and so on at heart, so they get a pass. Republicans tout family values and usually Christian values so they must be punished for being hypocrites.

All I can come up with.

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 14, 2011 at 1:45 AM

’12 is coming, and I know a few D’s with Damocles problem…

docjohn52 on May 14, 2011 at 7:12 PM