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Update on Nevada's embattled Sen. John Ensign

April 21, 2010 |  5:44 am

Our apologies to Nevada’s junior senator: The Ticket has neglected him for far too long. (At the very least, we last left him with a lovely haiku.)


2010 has not been kind to Sen. John Ensign, the once-ascendant Republican whose dalliances have jeopardized his political career. And that’s after a disastrous 2009.

Nevada's Republican Senator John Ensign




The world learned he had bedded his co-chief of staff’s wife, who also worked for him; pushed both of them out of their jobs; had his well-to-do parents pay them $96,000 and begged friends in Nevada to find a new job for the cuckolded husband, Doug Hampton.


Darn that Mark Sanford! Without the South Carolina governor’s, ahem, travels on the Appalachian Trail, Ensign might have topped the news.


If last year’s revelations landed the married and socially conservative Ensign in ethical trouble, this year’s left him in political and – possibly – legal jeopardy.


Last month, the Department of Justice served subpoenas on a number of Ensign associates, including Nevada political heavyweight Sig Rogich and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Here’s a copy of the subpoena, via Las Vegas TV station KLAS.


Las Vegas commentator Jon Ralston reported that federal authorities might be looking at an indictment related to “structuring” – or, as he explained this month:

Structuring is a broad term that refers to the crime of creating financial transactions to evade reporting requirements — for example, a $96,000 payment to your mistress laundered through a trust controlled by your parents and calling it a “gift” instead of what it obviously was: a severance payment that had to be reported



So it has taken nearly a year, but political players are starting to – as we suspected they might – openly treat Ensign as the pariah of 2010. Rep. Dean Heller, a top Nevada Republican, stopped just short of calling for Ensign’s resignation. The Washington Post referred to him as “disgraced and morally craven” in an editorial that had pretty much nothing to do with ethics.


For his part, Ensign has blamed the media, not his libido.


On Tuesday, we learned just how deep in exile Nevada’s junior senator is. In politics, the powerful are rewarded with cash. Ralston tweeted that Ensign’s first-quarter fundraising was – drum roll, please -- $50. Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons raised more for his fund to challenge the healthcare reform law in court.


Let's face it -- even street poets drum up more change.

-- Ashley Powers

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Photo: Associated Press