The bipartisan Senate committee, investigating the sexual harassment/ extortion/ lobbying scandals that led Sen John Ensign (R-Nev.) to resign his seat issued its report this week. It found “substantial credible evidence that provides substantial cause to conclude that Senator Ensign violated Senate Rules and federal civil and criminal laws, and engaged in improper conduct reflecting upon the Senate, thus betraying the public trust and bringing discredit to the Senate.” The committee referred the matter to the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission.
The report also found, however, that another Republican Senator, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, was hip-deep in the mess, serving as an intermediary between Ensign and his top aide, Doug Hampton, who was in the process of extorting Ensign for having an affair with Hampton’s wife. Sen. Coburn also played a central role in arranging for Ensign’s parents to cough up the hush money to satisfy Hampton’s demands. Whether Coburn knew about the more serious offenses that Ensign seems to have committed, such as lying to investigators and using his influence to create business for Hampton’s lobbying firm as part of the pay-off for Ensign sleeping with Hampton’s wife, is unknown, but never mind: helping with the cover-up is bad enough. Continue reading