Wednesday, July 8, 2009 | 12:28 p.m.
Jon: All right. We've talked a little in the previous program about timeline here. Let's get up to where you are asked to leave, fired, I'm going to let you clarify that, but here's what you said in your letter to Fox News about that timeline: 'Senator Ensign's conduct and relentless pursuit of my wife led to our dismissal in April of 2008. I would like to say he stopped his heinous conduct and pursuit upon our leaving, but that was not the case and his actions did not subside until August of 2008' Let's focus on the first part of that. You say that his relentless pursuit of your wife and the affair led to your dismissal. What exactly happened?"
Hampton: Yeah, he orchestrated the creation of November Inc. and me getting back to the state and out of his official office. He told me basically at the same time he said 'I'm in love with your wife,' 'You can't work for me anymore.' So when a U.S. senator tells you, you can't work for him anymore and he initiates, he personally takes the initiative to talk to Mike Slanker to make me needed in an official office and tell me what's going to go down. And then to be part of a cover-up, that we're going to keep this all between us because, God, what would happen if it would get out, [that] kind of shadow that he cast across the Slankers and the Hamptons and everyone who knew about this, including family and others, he made you feel incredibly guilty somehow way shape or form if you weren't a part of making sure this went down the way it went.
Jon: You know that's sick. A lot of people say that's sick that this guy is making you participate in, as you say, a cover-up. That this is OK, that, 'You leave, Doug, get out of my office go work for my political aide Mike Slanker at his company, November Inc., this will all be fine.' This all took place in an official office, this conversation?
Hampton: This entire thing went down exactly as I described it. I didn't dream this up. Cindy and I didn't think, 'Wow let's leave the Ensign organization on the same day. That would be a good decision for us in our lives.'
Jon: How did it happen? How was she told? Was she told at the same time?
Hampton: Because of John's pursuit and because Darlene was now really watching John, really watching a lot of his behavior when he was home, the Fridays, the weekends, his cell service, e-mail service, those types of things, she was very suspicious.'
Jon: Was he still texting and e-mailing your wife at this time?
Jon: How do you know that? Because she told him?
Hampton: Because I witnessed it. She told me; she confessed that he had gotten some other phones for communication for them… crazy stuff.
Jon: So he bought other cell phones, so no one would know he was making phone calls, you're saying? And your wife told you this? She showed you records?
Hampton: Yes. Darlene got the records. Darlene got phone records. Darlene knew what was going on she was doing her own work and John was just relentless.
Jon: So Darlene was looking into this? She was suspicious?
Hampton: Suspicious, Darlene, John, everything, until the end of April. The end of April there was a big encounter in the Ensign home between me, Darlene and John and where John just readily admitted. I did this, I just completely, I did this, I'm doing all this, I'm sorry, thank you for being so kind, I'm done. I'll put my life back together. Didn't change at all.
Jon: So this is after you were asked to leave? Or about the same time.
Hampton: Right at the…
Jon: So did he say in front of his wife, 'I'm in love with Cindy.'? 'I'm guilty of this.'?
Hampton: Not at that…
Jon: But he told you?
Hampton: He did, absolutely.
Jon: So he essentially tells you, you've got to get out.
Hampton: That's correct.
Jon: And same time, same meeting he tells your wife she has to leave, too? How did that happen?
Hampton: No. The pressure mounts there. Now Darlene doesn't want Cindy as the campaign treasurer. Understandably. Their relationship is too close. John uses that as leverage to contact Cindy. She's trying to get away from John, but he'll leave messages like, 'It is about your job, it is about a work issue I need you to talk about.' Just being put in that position is a terrible position that Cindy was [in]. There is leverage, it is so easy to look back and say 'Why didn't Doug do that or Cindy do that,' very difficult to navigate through. Our lives were meshed. And yes they were significant jobs, and we did a very good job at them.
Jon: Did you feel pressure then? Because that leads to possible action that could be taken.
Hampton: There's no question.
Jon: You know there's an ethics complaint filed that essentially brings that sexual harassment statute
Hampton: I hope that ethics does a tremendous investigation. A thorough investigation. They need to. You asked me an earlier question about John being a senator. This kind of decision-making is not serving Nevadans and it's wrong. John needs to go address some things and he needs to take some responsibility and he needs to make some rest and make things right. We were employees not fired, but orchestrated. Asked to leave, ushered out, however you have it a powerful man changed our employment life forever.
Jon There's been a lot written about your wife's pay during the affair and the severance that was paid. When we come back Mr. Hampton, we're going to talk about that. What really happened. We're going to get it right from the horse's mouth in an exclusive interview right on 'Face to Face.'
Jon: Welcome back to 'Face to Face' I'm Jon Ralston interviewing Doug Hampton exclusively, a former A Aide, he was also called co-chief of staff, to John Ensign, the U.S. senator who had an affair with his wife. Here's what the Washington Post wrote about the payments to you and your wife: "The Ensign office statement… said the payments to Mrs. Hampton doubled in 2008 because of an increased amount of work responsibility she took on for Ensign for Senate and his leadership political action committee, Battle Born PAC. Earning $1,885 a month working as a consultant for both political committees in 2007, Mrs. Hampton doubled her pay by the end of January 2008. That increase was based on her taking on additional roles for direct mail and accounting for the re-election committee as well as taking over as a treasurer for Battle Born PAC in February 2008 after the previous treasurer was dismissed in an unrelated legal investigation by the Ensign office.' I don't know if she took on additional responsibilities or not, but by the time line you are laying out here, and even by the one Ensign acknowledges, that's when the affair started, November 2007, January 2008, you say he's relentlessly pursuing your wife and her salary doubles. You know how that looks, don't you?
Hampton: Yeah. And it's unfortunate. There's nothing to that, it's to the truth. Chris Ward went through some issues back in Washington a large statement of work was moved to him in house Cindy took over that statement of work. Things were growing, things were significant. In the way that whole campaign world overlaps… There's a tremendous amount of overlap in John in his political world, his campaign world, Battle Born, money comes together. So the statement of work increased unbelievably. It's just timing. It's unbelievable that it coincided…
Jon So it's a coincidence?
Jon: She didn't get paid more because he's giving her an incentive to have an affair?
Hampton: Not at all. Not at all.
Jon What about the issue of your son. Hired, too, that looks unseemly, too, doesn't it?
Hampton No, not at all. We get requests like that all the time.
Jon: How did that happen? Tell people, how that happened.
Hampton: : You know, Brandon needed to do an internship at the NRSC, making phone calls. They need that kind of work, they bring kids in, multiple people, He was not the only one. There were many who come through cycles. Some will stay through a few weeks, a few months. He just did an internship. He dialed for dollars. He made phone calls.
Jon: Did John Ensign make the phone call to get him?
Hampton: I don't know if John was in or not. He didn't have to. Mike and I could orchestrate the deal. … he had that kind of role in the Ensign organization leadership to make that decision on the intern.
Jon: This kind of thing, it's not that uncommon, it happens all the time.
Hampton: It happens all the time.
Jon: Let's talk about as you leave and the severance that was paid to you and your wife. Let me show you what the New York Times wrote about that: 'A person close to Mr. Ensign's family who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the senator had confessed the affair to his wife many months ago and upon reconciling with her and his family, dismissed Mrs. Hampton from his political team with a severance that was paid from his own pocket' Is that true?
Jon: He paid severance to your wife from his pocket?
Hampton: To my knowledge, that's correct.
Jon: How much?
Hampton; That I don't know.
Jon: She's your wife. Was it more than $25,000
Jon: A lot more?
Jon: It was a lot more than $25,000? He's got some serious issues, because that was never disclosed…
Hampton: That could be. The intent and the reason was, [he] couldn't do anything for me. I'm a government employee. That is so mystifying to me in all of this. You and I have talked about this. I really hope the government steps up and understands that I was an employee of an employer that did some things that didn't cut it in the Boeings of life, in various other places, in the marketplace where people have strict ethics standards, but in Cindy's case, the whole campaign world and how it's intertwined was just different.
Jon: It wasn't taxpayer money, it was campaign funds?
Hampton: And that goes into insurance and things that he could do in the severance aspect of Cindy that he couldn't do for Doug.
Jon: But why did he pay severance out of his own pocket?
Hampton I don't know the answer to that. You'd have to ask [John].
Jon: But, I mean you were talking to your wife. You're still with your wife. You've talked about this with her. He paid her a large amount of money…
Hampton: Our only intent at that time was John came forward. He didn't…John never paid money to acknowledge the thing that I have really talked about here with regard to John. This is just purely like, severance, right thing to do, 'Hey it didn't work out, hope you guys have a nice life.'… In his mind, he's going to try to somehow, when he's home, continue to try to cultivate a relationship with Cindy. He doesn't care about much after that.
Jon: Which he did do. He paid you severance and your wife's severance.
Hampton: He didn't pay me severance.
Jon: OK, well he paid your wife this large severance more than $25,000 then he continues to pursue her. That's what happened next?
Hampton: > Yes, it's unbelievable.
Jon: Welcome back to 'Face to Face,' I'm John Ralston. We're here with Doug Hampton exclusively here on the program the second of a two-part interview with a man who used to be very close with John Ensign professionally and personally is now speaking out about what he calls an abuse of power and a cover-up. I mention the severance to you, which you say is not a severance, and in this ethics complaint, that's been filed against the senator, they ask them to investigate the $6,000 payment to you when you were terminated. This is from the Washington Post: "The Ensign office… said the additional payments to Doug Hampton were 'equal to 12 days of unused vacation,' not a severance package or any other form of payment to his former administrative assistant." Is that true?"
Jon: So you never got a severance?
Jon: So let's talk about going forward now, what occurs. November Inc, which is the company started by former employees of John Ensign, Mike Slanker. Somehow you are placed there. And you say that Mike Slanker at this time, who has denied to the AP and to others that he knew anything about this relationship Cindy had with John Ensign, that he knew all about this and this was a set up deal.
Hampton . Absolutely. He knew everything.
Jon: How'd it happen? Why'd you do it?
Hampton: He was contacted, as I said, by Darlene and made aware …
Jon: How do you know, how do you know that?
Hampton: Because he told. His wife and I told Cindy and I. A few weeks, some months went by and finally the Slankers came and said, 'You know something happened.' The end of March in my time there and something kind of happened with the girls and it exploded and it came out that Mike knew and Mike said, 'I know what happened. I know it happened.' and that morning I met with Mike, and we talked about it and I told him all about what had happened and he couldn't believe it and, again this was the March time period, devastating, We went downstairs into the chairman's office and confronted John and said, 'Are you aware that Mike knows?' 'No, God, Darlene said.' In that regard, he was more upset that Darlene said than he would grasp the significance of what he was doing and what was going on and what was happening under his leadership. So Mike knew, we didn't know what to do. Mike was in a terrible spot like I was in.
Jon: But why did you go to work for him?
Hampton: What was I going to do? John had created the whole consulting world thought, idea, get you some clients, they'll pay $5,000, $10,000 a month, get a few clients together that will cover your income here in what you were making here, you'll do the job.
Jon: So it didn't work out, did it?
Hampton: It didn't work out. It was very rough, a difficult start. Clients weren't coming together. People weren't paying. John genuinely thought we'd just, you know, put a contract in front of people. John didn't understand the relationship was difficult.
Jon: So then what happened?
Hampton: I began doing some consulting for Allegiant.
Jon: Did John Ensign get that consulting work for you?
Hampton: All John Ensign did was call Maury Gallagher about what we were doing. I met with Maury Gallagher…
Jon: Who's Maury Gallagher?
Hampton: He's the CEO, one of the principals of Allegiant Air.
Jon: So did you ask John Ensign to call?
Hampton: No, John worked off of his own. John worked off of the people that he thought. John told me what to do, hey, call this person, I didn't tell or ask John anything.
Jon: I've got to sit back here and ask, and it's hard for you to step back and say, 'This sounds kind of sick to me.' Here's a guy who has essentially forced you out of the office by your telling and because he doesn't want you anywhere near him. And during this time period, under your timeline, he pursues your wife through August, under John Ensign's time line, he continues to have an affair through August, and yet this guy is still trying to find you work. What? I mean this is very sick to most people I think.
Hampton: This is unbelievable. This is so unbelievable from so many angles.
Jon: He just wanted you to keep quiet, didn't he? Isn't that hwy he was doing this?
Hampton: He just felt like, If I do apples for apples here and get you set up, the fact that your wife, let me know at one time she did, and I can work this out and if I can have it my way, and if I could work through this. If I could figure this out, this is how I feel about it, this is what I want, and he didn't apologize for it and if he handled everything correctly and right that it could just go on that way and it would be fine and he could go on with his life. He never looked past the moment. Down the road, what would this mean? The impact of friends. What does this look like? How in the world would you believe a cover-up or something like this would last?
Jon: You were part of the cover-up, right?
Hampton: Yeah. I would like to take some responsibility for that. The fact that I didn't immediately do something? Sure.
Jon: You've been at Allegiant quite some time now, and you've got a pretty good job. Your son was also hired by Allegiant. Is your job secure at Allegiant?
Hampton: You know, it's terribly unfortunate, these people have been wonderful. It's a wonderful place to work and Maury and [his colleagues] are great leadership team and I'm unbelievably privileged to be there, but this has brought great hardship on them, that it shouldn't. I shouldn't have to defend that. I did the work. I had managerial experience. I spent some time in Washington. I can provide that service for them in that capacity.
Jon: They're getting heat now for that, is what you're saying?
Hampton: Yeah. It's unfortunate. Maury has gotten brought into this personally, things have been questioned with regards to qualifications and how did it happen, and none of that happened in any other way that's not happening today with public officials and high-ranking officials all over the country all the time. People go to work, spend some time on staff, take that opportunity and go back into the marketplace…
Jon: Of course, here's the situation that's happening here. John Ensign's still a U.S. senator. You're the guy that's out there saying all the things about John Ensign, that he wrote that letter. They don't want you around, do they?
Hampton: It's tough right now. It's tough for them.
Jon: And you blame John Ensign for that, don't you.
Hampton: Well there's no question. I didn't initiate this snowball that is just…
Jon: You're really worried now that you're not going to be able to make a living because of this kind of pressure that these people are going to feel, hiring the guy who is…
Hampton: The letter [to Fox News] stated it all. Jon. … Significant hardship and difficulties have come upon the Hamptons as a result of his hand.
Jon: We have one more segment to do sir, and I want to find out exactly what event triggered your writing that letter to Fox News. We'll bring you up to date, what does Doug Hampton want now, in a moment.
Jon: At some point there was a triggering event that caused you to write this letter to Fox News to get attention for this. You were trying to keep quiet. Things were going along I guess OK and at some point something happened because he was not providing the kind of restitution you wanted. Is that why you decided to go to Fox News?
Hampton: After a period of time, now I'm at Allegiant, just the magnitude of what has happened to our life has settled in and we really, we are going backwards each month financially. That was a big piece of an eye opener as to the magnitude of what had happened, taken place, and I just really felt like maybe some time had passed that if I got legal representation and they talked to John's legal representation and we handled this thing. Really, when you talk about me and the anger and the hurt and pain, it's a lot of hurt and pain personally towards John, but I want to do the right thing. Families involved, kids involved lives involved. Look at it today, John, look what's going on, but I want to talk to the people involved and say, 'Hey. Let's take a look at this. Maybe there can be some restitution.' He basically said, 'No, that's not going to happen. That will never happen.'
Jon: Who's he?
Jon: He said, through his lawyer, said, 'No way I'm not going to give them any money'?
Hampton: That's correct.
Hampton: He doesn't think he's done anything wrong. He thinks he's done restitution. The apology was initiated by the Fox letter, but in a way that isn't understood yet.
Jon: And obviously, the fact that you've hired an attorney leads people to believe that you're planning some kind of action and so.. .
Hampton: My action was to try to negotiate with…
Jon: But that didn't work, that didn't work?
Hampton: That's correct.
Jon: What now? Filing an action? Are you considering filing an action? Does your wife want to file an action?
Hampton: You know, Jon, we need help. We've stated that in the letter. I need a lot of concrete help from some people who say, 'This is how I would structure it, this is what I would do. This is how I would handle it,' you know? This is difficult stuff.
Jon: The [Las Vegas Review-Journal] wrote a story saying a lot of lawyers are saying they don't think you have much of a case. Is your lawyer telling you have a case on any actionable items here, this long after the fact?
Hampton: Sure, there's conversation, there's talk about the libel and the slander, that's terrible. The fact that John…
Jon: How is that? How did you get slandered? By calling you an extortionist?
Hampton: Absolutely. That's ridiculous.
Jon: They took that back, though…
Hampton: John needs to take a lot of things back. He needs to respond dramatically different to a lot of things he's done.
Jon: How did he find out about this do you think?
Hampton: I genuinely solicited Fox help because I really believe they are really well read.
Jon: But how did he find out, is what I was saying.
Hampton: One of the correspondents that is a part of Fox news is Rick Santorum and ..
Jon: Former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, close friend of Ensign's.
Hampton: Correct. And I sent a note to Rick, I begged Rick to call me, to talk to me before, and he didn't. Obviously, in my opinion, I could be wrong, but that would be what I suppose happened, and if I'm wrong, Rick, forgive me. This is, it appears to me, how it happened. And John doesn't just travel on Monday then travel on Tuesday, because this has been well thought out.
Jon: Has there been any attempt to contact John Ensign, any attempt of your wife to contact John Ensign, or the other way, since that press conference.
Hampton: Not at all.
Jon: None at all. Tell me about your wife, she seems to be almost a forgotten person here. Your marriage is still in tact. There are people who can't even believe that.
Hampton: Sure, and I appreciate that because that's, they're looking at this as though if this affair nonchalant, don't care about life, hook up, get together took place. It was nothing like that, it was just very…
Jon: Does your wife feel aggrieved now. Does she feel like she was under pressure and has she told you that this affair ended much earlier than John Ensign said it did?
Hampton: Sure, and Cindy is a great lady. She has great character. All of her friends would say that. This has been harder on her than anyone can make it on her. What happened and what took place at that time period. But for someone to take advantage of that, for someone to pursue that… be confronted, be confronted by friends, be confronted by another U.S. senator, constantly people approaching him, saying, 'This is a career-ending. This is really damaging stuff. Can we help you?' This gets turned into blackmail, extortion, 'Doug's trying to treat me bad.' That's… you don't understand that.
Jon: What do you think the odds are that you're going to file some sort of court action against John Ensign?
Hampton: I don't know.
Jon: But you're considering it?
Hampton: Sure, I considered everything. I would hope the government would do some things as an employer.
Jon: Well thank you for taking the time Mr. Hampton, I really appreciate your willingness to come on our program. Thank you very much.