The Senate ethics committee on Tuesday named a special counsel to investigate Sen. John Ensign, whose affair with a campaign aide led to a probe of the Nevada Republican’s attempts to find a lobbying job for the woman’s husband.
Named to the job was Carol Elder Bruce, a Washington defense lawyer specializing in white-collar crime. She has represented politicians in congressional investigations, served as an independent counsel and was a federal prosecutor in the nation’s capital.
Miss Bruce will conduct a preliminary inquiry, which will determine whether a higher-level review is warranted or whether the case should be dismissed. The ethics committee determines whether a senator violated standards of conduct.
The Justice Department previously dropped a criminal investigation of Mr. Ensign. The department had been looking into whether the senator conspired with staff aide Doug Hampton, the husband of the woman with whom Mr. Ensign was involved, to violate federal lobbying restrictions.
When Mr. Hampton found out about the senator’s affair with Cynthia Hampton, Mr. Ensign helped line up jobs for Mr. Hampton with campaign donors. Federal criminal law bars former Senate aides from lobbying in the Senate for a year after they leave their congressional jobs.
Ex-aide to Kennedy convicted of theft
A former aide to the now-deceased Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was found guilty Tuesday by a federal jury of stealing more than $75,000 from the Senate by giving himself unauthorized salary and bonuses.
Ngozi Pole, Kennedy’s former office manager, was convicted on all five counts of wire fraud and a single count of theft of government property.
Each wire-fraud charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine. The theft charge has a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is set for July 14.
As office manager, Pole, of Waldorf, Md., was responsible for sending staff salary and bonus information to the Senate Disbursing Office. Prosecutors said during the trial that Pole submitted false paperwork for unauthorized pay and bonuses from 2003 to 2007. Only Mr. Kennedy or his chief of staff were authorized to approve salary and bonus payments.
Pole covered up the excess payments he made to himself by providing false documentation to Kennedy’s chief of staff, prosecutors said during the trial.
Coleman to forgo new Senate bid