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Senate ethics panel has four probes underway

By Ben Pershing
The Senate Ethics Committee had four active investigations of senators underway as of the end of 2009, according to a report released by the panel Friday.

The committee is required by law each January to issue a summary of its activities from the previous year. The panel's report for 2009 says it conducted a "preliminary inquiry" of 13 different alleged ethics violations (eight of which carried over from 2008). Of those 13, eight were dismissed for various reasons and one -- the investigation of Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) -- resulted in a letter of admonition.

That leaves a total of four investigations that were active as of the beginning of January. The committee does not publicize whom it is investigating, so the identities of those facing scrutiny are not all clear.

The committee is widely reported to have an ongoing investigation of Sen. John Ensign (D-Nev.), who is accused of having tried to cover up an affair with a former aide. The Justice Department is also investigating Ensign, but the ethics committee's top Republican suggested to Politico that the panel would continue its own probe regardless of the separate federal investigation.

In August, the ethics panel dismissed complaints against Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) related to their receipt of "VIP" mortgages from Countrywide Financial Corp. In November, the committee admonished Burris for his conflicting statements surrounding his appointment to the senate and whether he had tried to raise money for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The report issued Friday said the committee received allegations of 99 ethics violations in 2009 from all sources, including those raised by senators or aides as well as outside sources. The vast majority were dismissed for lack of evidence. The panel also reported having "handled 12,667 telephone inquiries for ethics advice and guidance" as well as writing "996 ethics advisory letters and responses."

By Ben Pershing  |  January 29, 2010; 12:38 PM ET
Categories:  Capitol Briefing  
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Hey WaPo fact-checkers, when are you going to post a corrected version of this piece, as in John Ensign (R - Nev.)?

What a rag!

Posted by: Gatsby10 | February 1, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

"Sen. John Ensign (D-Nev.)"?

Is Pershing being paid by Fox News?

Ensign is a Republican.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | February 1, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Ensign dem? Its funny how the mainstream press makes fun of those who write blogs. This is an embarrassment to the Washington Post.

Posted by: malmberg | January 31, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Ensign is a REPUBLICAN. Basic fact-checking would be nice.

Posted by: FactCheck2 | January 29, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't aware that Ensign changed his party affiliation to Democrat. What an embarrassing day for Mr. Ben Pershing. Ben, I hear that Fox News is hiring.

Posted by: smelch | January 29, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

And I thought only Fox News would do this..
Sen. John Ensign (D-Nev.)
Nice one.

Posted by: TYTMaverick | January 29, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Ethics investigations!!!!! Are you kidding me? The entire Senate, as well as the House, have so many ethics violations it's ridiculous. Conflict of interest, extortion, bribery, sexual harassment.... none of which is investigated by the ETHICS COMMITTEE. WAFJ! I would love to see the rationalazation for not bringing the hammer down on Sen. Dodd and Conrad.
And Congress wonders why a case of the Mexican Runs has a higher approval rating....

Posted by: nosuchluck | January 29, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

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