Sharron Angle, the uber-conservative Reno Republican whose rapid political ascent faltered when she failed to bump off U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., channeled rocker Neil Young, who wrote, "It's better to burn out than to fade away," in a post-election speech in Las Vegas.
Angle, making a spontaneous visit to the Las Vegas Republican TownHall group, vowed to continue her crusade to shake up a national political scene she says has drifted too far from values the Founding Fathers held dear, even though she lost by 5 percentage points a race pundits once thought would be the biggest prize in a Republican wave.
"Our freedom is at stake. We knew that two years ago when we started running for the U.S. Senate, when you started helping me, you knew we couldn't stop," Angle told an audience of a few dozen Republicans in a banquet room at Charlie's Lakeside restaurant. "And we can't stop now."
There is speculation Angle could run for Nevada's 2nd Congressional District seat in 2012 if, as expected, incumbent Rep. Dean Heller seeks the U.S. Senate seat held by embattled Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.
If that's the plan, Angle isn't saying.
"I'll just have to tell you I have lots of options and I am looking at those options," she said.
In addition to making vague statements about her own future, Angle urged the Republicans in attendance -- including Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas -- to pay close attention to legislative redistricting to ensure new district boundaries are "square," and implored them to pay attention to bill draft requests lawmakers are piling up on the Legislature's website.
"Some of them are going to be pretty ugly," Angle said. "They are going to be aimed right at you and your pocketbook."
-- Benjamin Spillman
Supporters of Sen. John Ensign have given $64,254 to help pay for his defense in ongoing ethics and criminal investigations, according to U.S. Senate records.
Compared to Ensign's legal bills, which have so far exceeded a half-million dollars, the take to date for the Ensign Legal Expense Trust Fund is not large. The fund was established in May, and the donations are detailed in a quarterly report Ensign filed with the Senate on Oct. 20.
About $12,000 from the legal defense fund already has been paid to two marketing companies, and another $10,000 to the Arent Fox LLC law firm, according to the filing.
Ensign sent out a fundraising letter in August, telling supporters he was "absolutely" innocent of breaking federal lobbying laws and Senate ethics rules while trying to cover up an admitted extramarital affair with the wife of his administrative assistant, both of whom were close friends.
The Senate Ethics Committee and the Department of Justice are carrying out parallel investigations that have cast a cloud over the Nevada Republican since he announced the affair in June 2009.
Between July and the end of September, the Ensign fund had 93 donors who gave $5 to $10,000. Donors included former Rep. Barbara Vucanovich ($1,000); former Mandalay Resort Group executive Tony Alamo ($10,000); former MGM Resorts chief executive Terry Lanni ($10,000); and the Burning Tree Trust ($10,000), of which architect Joel Bergman is trustee.
Ensign reports paying more than $551,000 in legal bills for himself and staff members out of his campaign fund, plus undisclosed amounts from personal funds.
-- Steve Tetreault
Contact Benjamin Spillman at bspillman @reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault @stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760.