Federal subpoenas in Ensign investigation

March 18, 2010 at 9:35 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 18 (UPI) -- A federal grand jury investigating possible criminal wrongdoing by a U.S. senator has subpoenaed the National Republican Senatorial Committee, officials said.

The Justice Department is looking into whether Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., abused his office by helping a former aide get work as a lobbyist after Ensign, who is married, had a sexual affair with the aide's wife.

"The NRSC has responded appropriately to questions concerning matters related to the 2008 election cycle timeframe," NRSC General Counsel Sean Cairncross said in a statement, The Hill reported Thursday.

The FBI and the Senate Ethics Committee are investigating whether Ensign conspired to help the former aide, Doug Hampton, get lobbying work and used his influence to try to persuade people with knowledge of the matter to remain quiet, the Hill said.

Efforts to help Hampton get lobbying contracts may have violated legal restrictions on lobbying by former congressional aides, the Hill said. Hampton has said Ensign helped him get contracts with companies doing business in Nevada.

KLAS-TV, Las Vegas, reported Wednesday the Justice Department issued subpoenas to six Nevada businesses that dealt with Ensign and his office dating back to 2008.

"Sen. Ensign is confident he has complied with all ethics rules and laws and will cooperate with any official inquiries," a spokeswoman for Ensign said.

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