Nevada Senator Accused Of Holding Up Campaign Reform Bill

Accused by another senator of secretly blocking a campaign reform bill, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., says he doesn't remember whether he did or not.

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., suggested during debate this week that Ensign was the senator who twice since April placed an anonymous hold on a bill to require incumbents and Senate candidates to file campaign finance reports electronically.

The bill is broadly supported but has been prevented from advancing because of the hold. Senate candidates are the only ones still filing reports on paper.

"We know what is going on here," Feingold said after Ensign objected when he and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., tried to initiate debate on the electronic disclosure bill.

Ensign insisted he should be allowed to add an amendment, but Democrats said Ensign's proposal was not germane.

As a result of the standoff, neither the electronic disclosure bill nor Ensign's amendment passed.

Feingold said Ensign's action Monday indicated he was the senator who had been holding up the measure all along.

When asked by reporters whether he placed the holds, Ensign said
Tuesday, "I don't remember. To be honest with you. I don't remember."

The amendment by Ensign, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, would have forced groups filing complaints with the Senate Ethics Committee to disclose their contributors.

Ensign said partisan groups are using ethics complaints as political weapons against senators.

He also said he supports electronic campaign finance filing, but has been negotiating with Feinstein to add his amendment to the bill.