We Have a Felony!

200px-sen_john_ensign_official2Ladies and Gentlemen, this might be the GOP scandal of the year:

It looks like John Ensign’s sexual dignity — which hasn’t been high lately — has plunged to new depths. His lawyer has just released a remarkable statement saying that Ensign’s parents paid the Hamptons $96,000 after he told them about the affair.

From the statement:

In April 2008, Senator John Ensign’s parents each made gifts to Doug Hampton, Cindy Hampton, and two of their children in the form of a check totaling $96,000. Each gift was limited to $12,000. The payments were made as gifts, accepted as gifts and complied with tax rules governing gifts.

Structuring anyone?

Ensign Still Bringing Dirty Laundry to be Washed [TPM]


Maybe it’s just me, but this is way too much time, effort and energy to get laid in Nevada, the home of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch and other whore houses.

Oooh, now I see what you mean Bloggie! Bribe-tastic!

OK, structuring I remember as a term of art for a money laundering tactic designed to opaque the movement of payments and avoid observation by regulators and law enforcement. Is it the same for ethics rules specific to members of the Congress?

One check, but each gift was limited to 12k? GMAFB.

BTW, am I the only one to have noticed that in apology letter, Ensign writes “Doug” in a way that’s indistinguishable from “Dong”?

I don’t understand. His parents gave them money? Will that reflect on him? I mean, legally?

Thinking is hord!!

Wow, this guy is such an incredible asshole. Fucks over his wife, his friend, his friend’s wife and now his parents who may end up bearing some criminal liability and be stuffed into cages with neonazi serial killers. I mean, we could fill a stadium with people to call this guy an asshole over and over again for a year and to take turns defecating on his face and it would not begin to approach the barest expression of the depth of assholedom to which this piece of shit has fallen. This is pioneering perfidy.

I want an orange jumpsuit. I want a perp walk. I want a long sentence so he has to go to a real prison.

So he had to go to Mommy and Daddy to clean up his mess?

The GOP, forever in middle school.

It’s like a Sanford-Palin-Ensign tag team out there — soon as one fades, another steps in to pick up the slack. Who said Republicans forgot how to be team players?

@nojo: ugh, I just got a very uncomfortable image of “tag team” there.

@Signal to Noise: Would you prefer “shit sandwich”?

My comment at TPM:

I didn’t think Sanford could be bested, but Ensign has come from behind. Banging a staffer (who just happens to be his best friend’s wife), then having the parents pay hush money in a structured transaction … but they wrote only one check. Throw in hookers, another other woman, or a wetsuit, and this just might win GOP scandal of the year.

@blogenfreude: I know it’s despicable and all but is it illegal? And if so why? (Yes, I am that dumb.)

“Mommy, Daddy, if you loved me, you’d bribe my mistress for me.”

@Benedick: If a given limit is, say, $15k, and a transaction is split into segments so each slips under the legal radar, then you, sir, are cheating. You can’t game the system that easily.

@nojo: nah, not really. besides, it the Sanford-Ensign tag-teaming Palin video existed, the amusement would be worth all the bad imagery.

@Benedick: From the Sun article:

With respect to the possibly illegal $25,000 severance, Melanie Sloan of the ethics watch dog group CREW, said, “This is exactly what we alleged. The FEC will certainly be asking questions.”

Ensign could argue that the payment was a gift, not a severance, which would make it not subject to campaign finance laws.

Or Ensign could have split the payment into two parts, say $12,500 to each committee, Sloan said, which would lower the penalty for failure to report to a misdemeanor.


It looks fishy as all hell, but I don’t think structuring applies here. Anyone can give anyone $12,000 or less, and under certain circumstances you can actually give someone a much larger amount provided that you report it and carry it forward. Parents can write a check for up to $60,000 to fund their kids’ college education savings accounts–which works out to $12K per year for five years–provided they don’t make any additional contributions for five years. So it really depends on if it was reported and accounted properly.

Structuring applies almost exclusively to cash transactions, since it’s meant to avoid reporting the transaction as required by the Bank Secrecy Act, avoid taxation, and/or disguise the source of the funds.

Now if they went to their banker, tax planner or financial advisor, and that person told them to use cash and keep the amounts under $10,000 in many separate transactions, then they would all be guilty of structuring.

P.S. The $25K severence payoff is a somewhat separate issue.

@ Stinque Legal Crew:

One of my clients is a federal judge, to whom I recently sent a stack of paperwork in order to process a transaction she requested.

She replied with a marked-up, seven bullet-point list of everything she feels should be corrected and/or changed on my company’s docs.

I’m feelin’ your pain today!

Isn’t the really story here that this woman has a $100,000 pussy? Day-umm!

Yes, in order to end-run bank reporting requirements, usually animated as a laundering tactic during cash-out on a scam – and usually tacked on as an additional charge in a larger indictment.

@Original Andrew: Now if they went to their banker, tax planner or financial advisor, and that person told them to use cash and keep the amounts under $10,000 in many separate transactions, then they would all be guilty of structuring.

@Jamie Sommers says take this job & shove it!: Like I said somewhere on the other thread, there’s nothing more pathetic than a 60-something trustafarian.

ADD: Why is this post generating ads for a dating website for Muslims?

@FlyingChainSaw: I know squat about criminal law, but I can still hope, can’t I?

Oh, hey, no one wants to see this guy stomped to death by neonazi serial killers in jail more than I. I, too, haz hope.

@blogenfreude: hope, can’t I?

Nah, nah, this is estate planning. $12,000 dollars is the limit that any one person can give to any one recipient, per year, without incurring gift tax liability. So we have Mommy giving $12,ooo to each of the four family members, and Daddy giving $12,000 to each of the 4 family members. Its not money laundering style structuring, its gift tax planning, which is legit.

Its still hailarious, they had to call in their estate planner to do this.

This is from an online guide to the gift tax:

Gift tax
Although there’s no income tax on gifts, there is such a thing as a gift tax. The gift tax is imposed on the donor. The person receiving the gift does not have to pay this tax.

Most people don’t have to worry about this tax because it generally doesn’t apply until you make gifts exceeding annual exclusion amount to one person within a single year. And there are other exclusions that often prevent the gift tax from applying. There is an unlimited exclusion for gifts to your spouse. (An annual limit applies if your spouse is not a U.S. citizen.) And there’s an unlimited exclusion for the payment of medical expenses or educational costs, provided you make these payments directly to the service provider or educational institution.

The annual exclusion
The annual exclusion is adjusted for inflation and applies to each person every year. The amount is $12,000 as of 2008.

Example: On December 31 you give $10,000 to your son and $10,000 to your son’s wife. On January 1 (the next day) you give another $10,000 to your son and another $10,000 to your son’s wife. If you made no other gifts to your son or his wife during these two years, all of the gifts are covered by the annual exclusion.

If you’re married, your spouse can also make the gifts described in the example. You and your spouse each have your own annual exclusion amount, even if you file joint federal income tax returns.

@Benedick: Benedick, check out the discussion ‘Sarah – A Message for World’ at Team Sarah. There’s a very passionate fan of Sarah’s from Afghanistan asking her to come to the country and bring peace and defeat the Taliban. You’ll know what to do.

Someone tell me again whats the meaning of life?

@Promnight: If you believe Monty Python, it seems to be to see as many breasts as possible.

@FlyingChainSaw: “There’s a very passionate fan of Sarah’s from Afghanistan asking her to come to the country and bring peace and defeat the Taliban.”

Don’t make it so easy for Nojo to write the 7 am EDT/4 am PDT post.

@Promnight: It’s not George Harrison night at the stinque jukebox, is it?

@SanFranLefty: I’d have to work at that one. Friday’s was served up on a platter.

i know a little about this. under $10k CASH, you fly under the radar. correct as usual, FCS.
OA, prommie, wait, whaa? you say january 08 it went to 12?????
i have a call to make…………………..

hey, i’m structuring! and getting away with (legally) NOT paying taxes in fuckstanamerica. i DO pay taxes in israel and turks and caicos. turks gives me serenity, and i’m willing to pay for it. israel gives me the best health care in the world.
funny that, how israel has a ginormous defense budget AND finds funds to give comprehensive health insurance to every citizen.

@baked: Obviously communists.

Thanks for the info re the mommie option invoked by Sen Ensign. What is enjoyable is that in this whole sorry mess he can’t even find the balls to go illegal. And the thought of him having a ‘spiritual advisor’ is just about too funny for words.

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