Ensign says he is no longer Justice target

Dec. 1, 2010 at 8:09 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., says he has received an "early Christmas present," news the U.S. Justice Department has ended its investigation into his conduct.

The Senate Ethics Committee still has an active investigation into allegations that Ensign covered up an affair with Cindy Hampton. Her husband, Doug, was a longtime Ensign friend and his former administrative assistant.

Ensign told the Las Vegas Review-Journal Wednesday his lawyers were told by the Justice Department that the federal investigation was over.

"Obviously this is great news for us," Ensign said. "It's a pretty nice early Christmas present."

The Federal Election Commission dropped a complaint last month. Ensign was alleged to have paid the Hamptons $96,000 in campaign funds to ensure their silence about the affair.

Ensign has already said he plans to run for a third term in 2012.

Melanie Sloan, executive director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, charged that the Justice Department had the witnesses it needed to pursue a case against Ensign.

"It is a sad day for America when the Department of Justice declines to take action against a senator who has violated the law as blatantly as Sen. Ensign," she said.

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