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JV_BOXER 017.JPGThe long-simmering Senate Ethics Committee investigation of Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada may be heating up, and this puts Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in an intriguing position.

Boxer chairs the ethics panel, which announced Tuesday the hiring of respected attorney Carol Elder Bruce as Special Counsel to handle the Ensign affair. A former federal prosecutor, Bruce also served as an Independent Counsel to investigate former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

Bruce's hiring suggests the Ensign case will be moving forward, potentially toward the kind of public hearings that will put a spotlight on both Ensign and Boxer. Ensign had an affair with a former campaign treasurer named Cindy Hampton, who was married to one of his aides. Ensign's family subsequently gave some $96,000 to the Hampton family; they said it was a legitimate gift.

PHOTO CREDIT: California Senator Barbara Boxer meets with the Sacramento Bee's editorial board on Thursday morning in Sacramento. September 02, 2010. Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee


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