“Based on the record in this matter, the Special Counsel respectfully submits that there is substantial credible evidence that provides substantial cause to conclude that Senator Ensign violated Senate Rules and federal civil and criminal laws, and engaged in improper conduct reflecting upon the Senate, thus betraying the public trust and bringing discredit to the Senate,” the report states.
Among other things, the report alleges that Ensign and his parents made illegal payments to his mistress and her husband, made false or misleading statements to the Federal Election Commission, and “permitted spoliation [alteration or destruction] of documents and engaged in potential obstruction of justice violations.”
The committee has referred the matter to the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission.
Critics wonder why the Justice Department appears not to have pursued the Ensign case with any sense of vigor. Last December, the Justice Department informed Ensign's lawyers that he was "no longer a target" in a corruption probe.
“It is puzzling how DOJ, armed with the full might of the legal system, was unwilling or unable to reach the same conclusions as the ethics committee,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, in a statement. “Perhaps this report will give DOJ the spine it so clearly lacks, and the courage to finally take on Senator Ensign.”
"It is only a question of when the government is going to indict," Douglas McNabb, a federal criminal defense attorney, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal Friday. "I don't understand why they set it aside before."