For Immediate Release
Peter Bjork 202.408.5565
CREW Asks DoJ for Criminal Investigation Into Ensign Severance Payment to Former Mistress
WASHINGTON - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), called on Attorney General Eric Holder to order a criminal investigation into payments made by Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) to his former mistress, Cynthia Hampton, when he fired her from her positions with his campaign committee and leadership political action committee (PAC).
CREW's request is in direct response to statements by Ms. Hampton's husband, Doug Hampton, that Sen. Ensign provided Ms. Hampton with over $25,000 in severance.
If, as it has been alleged, Sen. Ensign provided Ms. Hampton with a severance payment out of his own pocket, he made an in-kind contribution to his campaign committee, Ensign for Senate, and his leadership PAC, Battle Born PAC. Neither committee, however, reported receiving such in-kind contributions from the senator.
Last month, having learned only that the senator gave Ms. Hampton some severance payment, but with no information about the amount, CREW asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate the committees' failure to report the contribution in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and to determine whether Sen. Ensign made an illegal excessive contribution to the PAC, as the FECA prohibits contributions of over $5,000 by any individual.
At the same time, CREW had also asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate Sen. Ensign's conduct.
Today, CREW asked for a Department of Justice investigation as well, based on Mr. Hampton's statement that Sen. Ensign had provided his wife with over $25,000 in severance.
Under the FECA, the knowing and willful failure to report contributions totaling $25,000 or more in a calendar year is a federal crime, punishable by up to 5 years in jail.
Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, stated, "As despicable as Sen. Ensign's conduct has been, it now appears it also may have been criminal. The Department of Justice has a responsibility to ensure that all Americans - even high level political officials - are held accountable for their actions."
Read CREW's letter to the DOJ, as well as last month's complaints to the Senate Ethics Committee and the FEC, in the Related Documents Section on the right.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.