WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- A federal grand jury Thursday charged Douglas Hampton, a former assistant to U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., with violating criminal conflict-of-interest laws.
The District of Columbia jury indicted Hampton, 48, on seven counts of violating criminal conflict-of-interest laws for making prohibited communications to a Senate office, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen of the District of Columbia; and James W. McJunkin, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office, announced in a release.
The indictment alleges Hampton left his employment with Ensign May 1, 2008, and obtained employment as a government affairs consultant with an airline company and an energy company in Las Vegas. Hampton allegedly violated congressional rules barring employees from lobbying former colleagues for a one-year period after leaving Congress.
"Hampton knowingly and willfully made, with the intent to influence, communications to staff members of the U.S. senator on behalf of the Las Vegas airline company and energy company, seeking action by the senator and the staff members in their official capacities," the release said.
Ensign, who recently announced his intention not to seek re-election, is the subject of a Senate ethics committee investigation for his role in an affair with Hampton's wife, Cynthia.
The maximum penalty for each count against Hampton is five years in prison. He also faces a $250,000 fine for each count.
Hampton will be arraigned March 31 in U.S. District Court in Washington.