Ensign’s Resignation Must Not be the End of the Affair: Statement of Meredith McGehee, Campaign Legal Center Policy Director
Senator John Ensign is right to resign. His conduct was reprehensible. The problem, of course, is that these shenanigans were not simply Senator Ensign’s private affairs, but were entangled in his official position and the operations of his Senate office and included apparent violations of revolving door rules. Certainly, the standards of behavior he set did not reflect creditably on the institution, and his resignation is welcome and overdue.
With the Justice Department and Federal Election Commission having punted, it is critically important that the Ethics Committee follow through on their statement to complete this investigation so that the accurate, complete story can be made public. Otherwise, the mud will have been swept under the rug.
This case should be used as a reminder that, when the Office of Congressional Ethics was established by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate refused to follow suit. That is much to the “upper” body’s discredit. The OCE has provided a means to investigate matters expeditiously and, at least so far, with credibility. The Senate should reconsider its rejection of such an investigative body.
For too long, the Senate ethics process has operated under the guidance of “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” The process remains opaque and an outside investigative office is needed to bring credibility and integrity to the process.