ENSIGN FEELING EVEN MORE HEAT…. There was a report earlier this week that the Senate Ethics Committee was taking a more active interest in Republican Sen. John Ensign’s (Nev.) sex-ethics-corruption scandal. The conservative senator is already the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation, and the Ethics Committee’s interest suggests Ensign’s future is even more precarious.
All this week, I-Team cameras have been secretly recording as Senate investigators talked with a who’s who of Las Vegas business and political leaders.
Last month, we reported that criminal investigators from the Department of Justice were in Las Vegas talking to potential witnesses. This week, at least two attorneys for the Senate Ethics Committee were camped out at a hotel near the Strip where they interviewed a string of witnesses whose testimony could mean the end of John Ensign’s political career. […]
Each of the potential witnesses who spoke to investigators during the week were given a booklet of procedures, explaining the legal framework for the Ensign probe. They were asked, but not ordered, to keep quiet about the inquiry. [….]
For the Ethics Committee to spend an entire week on the ground in Las Vegas, hearing for themselves the stories — how Ensign tried to find work for Hampton, how he used the same meetings to solicit campaign donations while also offering to help Nevada companies to secure contracts in Washington — is a strong suggestion the committee is deadly serious about the scandal.
There was already some talk this week about Ensign feeling increased pressure to resign in disgrace, and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) became the first sitting senator to publicly note that Ensign may not have much of a choice.
Of course, it’s still possible that both the FBI and Ethics Committee investigations may determine that there’s not enough evidence to pursue Ensign on formal charges, but at this point, I’d say the Republican’s future is bleak.