The Federal Election Commission voted to dismiss a complaint alleging that Sen. Jon Ensign violated campaign finance rules over a $96,000 gift his parents provided to former chief of staff Doug Hampton and Hampton’s wife, with whom the Nevada Republican had an affair.
In an undated letter released Friday by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the FEC concluded on Tuesday that an investigation into the group’s complaint would be unwarranted.
“Whether the payment at issue in this matter is a gift or an excessive contribution turns on the intent of the Ensigns in making the payment. Here, the Ensigns have submitted sworn affidavits attesting that the $96,000 payment was a gift, and therefore not a contribution,” the FEC report states.
Hampton has alleged that those funds, given to his spouse, Cynthia Hampton, and their family, constituted a severance payment, but the FEC determined such statements would not be considered. Cynthia Hampton served as an aide on Ensign’s re-election campaign.
“Testimony from other parties, such as the Hamptons, would be unlikely to shed any light on the subject of the Ensigns’ intent,” the FEC wrote.
The FBI and the Senate Ethics Committee are separately investigating Ensign’s alleged efforts to cover up the affair.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.