- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 4, 2009

The second-ranking Senate Republican offered no support Sunday for embattled Sen. John Ensign, Nevada Republican, who is facing renewed criticism over an extramarital affair with an aide and the actions he took on behalf of her husband.

Asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” if Mr. Ensign can serve effectively or should step down, Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, did not address his colleague’s future and said he would await a Senate Ethics Committee investigation.

Mr. Kyl’s sidestep followed on repeated refusals on Friday by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, to answer questions about Mr. Ensign or pledge any support.

The New York Times reported in Friday’s editions that the woman’s husband, Doug Hampton, lobbied Mr. Ensign on behalf of his clients — a job Mr. Ensign had helped him get. Congressional aides are prohibited by law from lobbying their former bosses or office colleagues for one year after leaving their employment.

Mr. Hampton told the Times that he and Mr. Ensign were aware of a ban on lobbying Mr. Ensign and his staff but chose to ignore it.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, who heads the committee, told CNN that there is a preliminary investigation of Mr. Ensign’s actions. “We will look at all aspects of this case, as we do whenever there is a case before us, and try to get to the bottom of it as quickly as we can in fairness to all,” Mrs. Boxer said.

Mr. Ensign acknowledged in July that he had had an affair with Cynthia Hampton, a former campaign staffer and once one of his top Senate aides. News reports later detailed how the Nevada Republican tried to hide the affair by finding a consulting and lobbying job for Mr. Hampton, arranging for a $96,000 payment to the couple, and promoting his mistress and raising her pay around the time of their affair.

Mr. Ensign has said he did nothing illegal and would run for re-election in 2012.

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