Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) acknowledged this morning that his chief of staff is under investigation for possession of pornographic images of children, raising questions about that aide's background—and secondarily, about his boss' upcoming re-election bid.

"I was just informed by the United States Senate legal counsel's office that law enforcement agents are conducting a search of the personal residence of Ryan Loskarn, the chief of staff of my Washington, D.C., office regarding allegations involving child pornography." Alexander said in a press release. "I am stunned, surprised and disappointed by what I have learned. Based on this information, I immediately placed Mr. Loskarn on administrative leave without pay. The office is fully cooperating with the investigation."

Alexander, a prominent fiscal conservative who is up for re-election next year, has been criticized of late for not going full tea party and is one of several "moderate" Republican senators facing primary challenges from the right. A senator's top aide being investigated for child porn certainly seems like an interesting December Surprise in a primary race that appeared to be fizzling.

More important than a contrived horse race, though, is whether Loskarn really dabbles in exploitive sexual images of minors.

A Maryland native, he appears to be your run-of-the-mill Hill geek: He made Congressional Quarterly's "Fab 50" list of staffers and is Facebook friends with all the right Beltway journalists and political guys behind the guys. He's worked for a variety of GOP-led committees, as well as conservative Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and made $169,000 in the past fiscal year as Alexander's top advisor. Three years ago, the then-31-year-old bought a half-million-dollar house in Southeast D.C.

Loskarn, pictured below at the White House, has only had one public run-in with the law before now: In 2007, he was cited in Arlington, Virginia, for doing 47 in a 30-mile-an-hour zone, according to court records.

[Photo credits: AP; Facebook]