- - Sunday, July 25, 2010

JUSTICE

Coburn assisting Ensign investigation

Sen. Tom Coburn is providing information to the Justice Department for its investigation into whether Nevada Sen. John Ensign broke the law in an attempt to keep an affair with a staff member secret, Mr. Coburn’s office said Saturday.

Mr. Coburn discussed his role as counselor to the Republican Mr. Ensign in 2008 when Mr. Ensign was having an affair with Cynthia Hampton, a former campaign staffer. At the time, the Oklahoma Republican had advised Mr. Ensign to end the affair and was seeking to mediate a dispute with Mrs. Hampton’s husband, Doug.

Federal authorities are trying to determine whether Mr. Ensign skirted federal rules to help Doug Hampton find lobbying work.

The Justice Department has requested copies of some of Mr. Coburn’s e-mail, and the senator’s office said he was cooperating in providing e-mail that pertained to the probe.

DEMOCRATS

Dean: Charges could oust Rangel

Democratic Rep. Charles B. Rangel deserves to expelled from Congress if the ethics charges against him are true, former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said Sunday.

“He did some things that look like they ought to get him thrown out of Congress. And if it turns out that he did them, he’s going to get thrown out,” Mr. Dean said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Mr. Dean said, however, that the New York lawmaker “is owed a fair process” to fight it out. “If he wants to cut a deal [with prosecutors], that’s his business.”

The 80-year-old Democrat, one of the most senior members of Congress, has denied any wrongdoing and says he welcomes the opportunity to clear himself.

Democrats fear if Mr. Rangel doesn’t make a deal, his anticipated trial before a congressional panel in September will undermine their chances to retain control of the House of Representatives in the November election.

The House ethics committee announced unspecified charges against Mr. Rangel Thursday after a breakdown in negotiations with his lawyers. Talks have resumed, Democratic Party aides said. Charges are to be disclosed this week.

The ethics panel has been examining for nearly two years a number of allegations against Mr. Rangel, including that he failed to pay taxes on a villa and he improperly used his office to solicit contributions to a college center named in his honor.

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