Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) is paying the legal bills of some of his staff as they face questioning over Ensign’s sex-and-lobbying scandal.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports today that the payments to law firms are listed on Ensign’s campaign’s latest FEC reports. Questioned about the payments, Ensign’s spokeswoman confirmed that they were for staff members.
“Senator Ensign’s campaign is paying for the legal bills accrued by staff as a result of cooperating with the ongoing ethics investigation,” spokeswoman Jennifer Cooper told the Review-Journal.
“Senator Ensign felt strongly that his staff should not be shouldered with the financial burden of this investigation and was told by the Senate Ethics Committee that the only way he could assist in paying for staff legal fees was through the campaign, not through personal or legal defense funds.”
She did not identify the staffers, or say whether they were current or former staffers.
The payments total $8,000 to three law firms.
Ensign is facing investigation by the Senate ethics panel, which has reportedly been deposing his aides.
The panel is investigating whether Ensign broke lobbying laws by setting up a former aide, Doug Hampton, with lobbying gigs after he left Ensign’s employ. Hampton was the husband of another staffer, Cynthia Hampton, who Ensign admits having an affair with. His parents paid the Hamptons $96,000.
Ensign himself could be facing significant legal bills, and in May created a legal defense fund. The Review-Journal reports the Ensign will soon send a letter to political supporters soliciting donations.