Monday, April 05, 2010

John Ensign, money launderer

I think we all know that Repubican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada is a breathtaking hypocrite. But did you also know that he is, quite possibly, a criminal money launderer, and that an indictment may be on the way? As the Las Vegas Sun reported yesterday:

In the federal penal code, it is known as "structuring."

And it is a word Sen. John Ensign should remember because it is very likely to be on any indictment with his name on it.


Structuring is a broad term that refers to the crime of creating financial transactions to evade reporting requirements -- for example, a $96,000 payment to your mistress laundered through a trust controlled by your parents and calling it a "gift" instead of what it obviously was: a severance payment that had to be reported.

That the feds are looking at structuring as a possible crime will not surprise many old hands who have watched the sordid Ensign saga play out, morphing from a fairly grotesque he-slept-with-his-best-friend's-wife-who-was-also-his-wife's-best-friend story to a fantastically creepy tale of a senator trying to keep the cuckolded husband quiet by any means necessary, including, perhaps, structuring transactions with businesses in exchange for campaign contributions.

Of course, in the Republican Party, money laundering, like infidelity and bribery, may very well be considered a core family value, so perhaps Ensign's conduct in this matter isn't all that surprising. But it's a good thing that the FBI is looking into it.

As Steve Benen explains, "Ensign's controversy, for quite a while, looked like a simple sex scandal -- the 'family-values' conservative was sleeping with one of his aides who happened to be married to another one of his aides. But as we've seen the matter unfold in recent months, there's now ample reason to believe the Republican senator may also include ethics violations, hush money, and official corruption."

For more on this and similar Republican scandals (e.g., Vitter, Sanford), and on how Republicans tend to "forgive and forget" their own kind, see this great post by Mustang Bobby from last year. It includes this Ensign-related quote from Salon's Joe Canason:

For more than a decade, Ensign lent his name to Promise Keepers, the all-male Christian prayer movement run by a former Colorado football coach, whose mass rallies highlighted men's integrity, purity and uncompromising domination of family life. Both he and Sanford have worked closely with the Family, a secretive Christian fellowship on Capitol Hill that maintains a brick townhouse where Ensign and other members of Congress have resided. Over the years both men have won the highest marks from the Family Research Council, the Christian Coalition and the American Family Association...


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  • What's been taking so long? It seems no action is taken on so many crimes unless the press makes a big stink. Otherwise, so much corrpution seems to get a pass.

    I am ashamed of my nation at this point in time.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:49 PM  

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