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Ethics Committee Investigating Ensign's Affair With Campaign Aide

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Ethics Committee on Tuesday appointed a special counsel to handle the probe of Sen. John Ensign, R-NV, a move that could prove damaging to his already imperiled re-election bid.

The panel's chairman, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, and top Republican Johnny Isakson of Georgia announced that Carol Elder Bruce will serve as special counsel.

The Senate Ethics panel is currently looking into allegations that Ensign violated Senate rules and federal law. Ensign, who is up for re-election in 2012, had an affair with a former campaign aide who was married to his deputy chief of staff.

"The purpose of a preliminary inquiry is to determine whether there is substantial credible evidence that a violation within the Committee’s jurisdiction has occurred," the Senate panel said in a statement Tuesday.

Last year, the Justice Department scrapped a criminal investigation into the Ensign matter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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