Friday, July 30, 2010

Some probes are more exciting than others

Steve Benen asks an excellent question: Why is a House ethics committee's investigation of Rep. Charles Rangel seemingly more interesting to the press than the FBI's investigation of Sen. John Ensign?

There may be some rule that I'm not aware of, prohibiting coverage of Republican scandals, but while a House Democrat's ethics problems intensify, a sitting Republican senator is still the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, which is also getting more serious.

The Senate on Thursday night quietly approved a resolution that will allow Sen. John Ensign's aides to testify to a federal grand jury investigating the aftermath of the Nevada Republican's extramarital affair with a former campaign aide.

By voice vote, the Senate approved the resolution that would authorize employees of the Senate to give testimony to a grand jury in Washington.

Senate aides said that the resolution was necessary because Senate rules would prohibit employees from testifying outside of the halls of Congress.

Politico added that the move, which nearly every major outlet ignored, "is the latest sign that the investigation ... continues to move swiftly."

This development comes just a week after Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a former Ensign housemate, announced that he'd agreed to cooperate with the federal criminal investigation surrounding the conservative Nevadan. Coburn turned over more than 1,200 pages of documents to the Justice Department, including emails from Ensign.

And that development came on the heels of news that Ensign's aides have told investigators that the senator knew he was violating ethics rules on lobbying restrictions, but did it anyway

To recap: John Ensign, defense of marriage scold, had an affair with the wife of his friend and staffer. He then had his parents offer to pay the couple to keep the story quiet and used his office to try to get a lobbyist job for the husband, violating ethics rules.

Charlie Rangel, Korean War hero, had a Harlem apartment he didn't live in that he may have used as a campaign office and didn't disclose a vacation home, among a handful of other "serious" ethics violations.

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