WASHINGTON - The Senate Ethics Committee says it has found "substantial and credible evidence" that former Nevada Sen. John Ensign may have violated campaign finance and lobbying laws and has referred its findings to the Justice Department.
Committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer said Thursday that the committee voted unanimously to release its preliminary report into a sex and lobbying scandal that dogged the Nevada senator for nearly two years before he resigned earlier this month.
The committee has been investigating whether Ensign inappropriately funneled nearly $100,000 to the husband of his former mistress, a man who had worked as the senator's aide. The committee also investigated whether Ensign violated the law by helping the man set up a lobbying business.
Nevada Rep. Dean Heller was appointed to fill Ensign's seat and was sworn in this week.
The report claims Ensign, in the fallout from a extramarital affair, made false or misleading statements to the Federal Election Commission, conspired to help an aide violate the law, accepted illegal campaign contributions and "engaged in potential obstruction of justice."