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Ex-Aide to Senator Ensign Indicted for Corruption

(CN) - A lobbyist and former congressional staffer who made headlines by accusing his wife of sleeping with his boss in the U.S. Senate will be arraigned next week for violating federal conflict of interest laws.

Douglas Hampton was indicted Thursday on seven counts of violations of congressional rules that prohibit Senate employees from lobbying a year after they leave public service.

Congress passed the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act in 2007 to slow the revolving door between Capitol Hill and cushy lobbyist work.

In May 2008, after spending a year and a half as the administrative assistant to Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Hampton began doing lobbyist work for a budget airline based in Las Vegas and for "the largest energy provider in Nevada."

Though the names of the companies are not disclosed in the indictment, the aforementioned descriptions fit the mold of Allegiant Air and NV Energy. Ensign is also not named in the indictment, which notes that the position of administrative assistant was one of the most senior positions on the senator's staff.

In June 2008, Allegiant Air was apparently unhappy that the Department of Transportation had plans to penalize it for charging "convenience fees" in violation of full-fare advertising requirements for airlines, according to the indictment.

Hampton asked Ensign and the politician's legislative aide, who is not named in the indictment, to convince the Transportation Department to delay or withdraw the enforcement action, which would carry a "substantial" fine, against the airline. He also tried to use Ensign and the senator's chief of staff, John Lopez, to arrange a meeting between the transportation secretary and an airline company executive, according to the indictment.

Lopez is not named in the indictment. The senator's longtime aide resigned in July 2009.

Prosecutors say Hampton also asked Ensign and Lopez to hound the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management in December 2008 about an environmental impact statement that NV Energy needed to begin building a new coal-fired plant.

By 2009, Hampton's relationship with the senator had soured. He wrote a letter to Fox News in June 2009 claiming his wife Cynthia was having an affair with Ensign.

"I need justice, help and restitution for what Senator Ensign has done to me and my family," Hampton wrote in the letter to Fox anchorwoman Megyn Kelly. "Regardless of technicalities, regardless of position, regardless of power this cannot and should not be tolerated in our country from our trusted leaders. Will you help?"

Hampton's wife had also worked for Ensign as treasurer of his reelection campaign and for his conservative political action committee, Battle Born PAC. Like her husband, Cynthia left the senator's staff in early 2008.

Sen. Ensign admitted to the affair on the day that the letter was made public, and is now the subject of an Ethics Committee investigation. He announced that he will not seek reelection in 2012.

If convicted, Hampton faces a maximum of five years in prison for each of the seven counts. This case is being prosecuted by trial attorneys Deborah Sue Mayer and Edward T. Kang.

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