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November 24, 2014

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John Ensign faces ethics complaint over apartment rent rate

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Sen. John Ensign listens to a speech during a Lincoln Day dinner in Fallon on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010.

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133 C Street S.E. is registered as a church and affiliated with a secretive Christian group known as The Family. It is the Washington home of several influential conservative politicians, including Sen. John Ensign of Nevada.

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Sen. John Ensign faces another ethics problem, this time related to his relationship with a religious group that allegedly rented him a room in a Washington house at below-market rates, in violation of congressional gift rules.

Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, or CREW, filed complaints against Sens. Sam Brownback, R-Kan; Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Jim DeMint, R-S.C. and Ensign; as well as Reps. Mike Doyle, D-Penn.; Heath Shuler, D-N.C.; Bart Stupak, D-Mich.; and Zach Wamp, R-Tenn. They all lived at the red brick house on C Street in Washington.

CREW alleges they received an improper gift from C Street Center, Inc., which owns the house.

The "C Street House," which is affiliated with a powerful and secretive Christian religious organization called "The Family" or "The Fellowship," became notorious last year after it was revealed Ensign and Sanford, who admitted to adulterous affairs, had both lived at the house.

The CREW complaint was first reported by Sun columnist Jon Ralston. Separately, The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that 13 Ohio Christian pastors filed a complaint with the IRS challenging the tax-exempt status of the C Street Center.

"The pastors said they are concerned that the center is 'an exclusive residential club for powerful officials (that) may be masquerading as a church,'" the Dispatch reported.

Ensign already faces investigations by the Department of Justice and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics regarding his affair with a campaign aid who was the wife of his co-chief of staff. Investigators are examining whether he broke ethics laws when he sought to help the co-chief of staff, Doug Hampton, obtain employment and lobby his office after Hampton left the Senator's employ.

No one from Ensign's office could be reached for comment this morning.

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