Republican Sen. John Ensign took three trips paid for by an arm of the religious group The Family, which operates the C Street house that has been at the center of recent sex scandals involving the Nevadan and other elected officials.
The trips Ensign took in 2003 and 2004 to Tokyo and the Middle East were apparently allowed under congressional ethics laws that have since been rewritten to restrict privately funded travel.
But the trips have come to light as questions have arisen about the secretive group and its work with elected officials.
Ensign and Republican South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford have admitted to extramarital affairs. Both have ties to C Street. Former Republican Rep. Chip Pickering has been accused of an affair while he lived there.
Author Jeff Sharlet, whose book “The Family” includes insight from his month spent living with the organization, wrote that “The Family acts today like the most powerful lobby in America that isn’t registered as a lobby — and is thus immune from the scrutiny attending the other powerful organizations.”
Sharlet wrote this week on Salon.com that the group sends its members around the world to spread what he calls Biblical capitalism — a brand of fiscal conservatism rooted in the philosophy of the group’s founder, who believed the Great Depression was God’s punishment for the socialist leanings of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
In the group’s earlier days, it was supportive of the anti-communist campaign of Indonesian dictator Suharto, and “sent delegations of congressmen and oil executives to pray to Jesus with the Muslim leader,” Sharlet said.
OK, so this was legal back when Ensign made these trips. But still, it doesn't look right. Is he really serving us the people of Nevada? Or is he just a tool of these C Street fanatics?
The more answers emerge, the more questions we need answered.