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January 16, 2018

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Transcript of Jon Ralston’s interview with Doug Hampton

Doug Hampton interview - July 2009

Exclusive Interview, seg. 2

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  • Exclusive Interview, seg. 2
  • Exclusive Interview, seg. 3
  • Exclusive Interview, seg. 4
  • Exclusive Interview, seg. 1


Jon starts out by asking if money played a role in him speaking publicly ...

Hampton: No.

Jon: What's it about?

Hampton: I think this story goes a lot further back to the letter and how the letter (to FOX News) kind of insinuated that something happened at Christmas 2007 that I think really genuinely changed the direction of things.

The truth is we were going through a really difficult time at the end of December. We had a robbery at our home. We live not in the same neighborhood as the Ensigns, but in an adjacent neighborhood relatively close to each other. We had a robbery. Our home was broken into. Some doors were knocked down. And, we were asked to go over and stay with the Ensigns. We're close, really close. Close friends. We've been close friends a long time. Very close while we live here in Nevada. While living in the house, Cindy and John got together.

Jon: The affair began then?

Hampton: Yes. The relationship began then. What transpired was an event where we were going to go pick up our son. He was coming back from out of state for Christmas. I kind of intercepted a text message. We were going to go pick up his girlfriend on the way down to the airport. The Ensigns were going to go with us. We were like family. We were going to go pick up Brandon. Cindy went up to the door of Brandon's girlfriend's house, and the text message went off. It was really kind of a tough message between John and Cindy. I confronted em'.

It just dealt with the fact that they had kind of enjoyed being together. So, I confronted Cindy, confronted John, and a big occurrence took place, the 23rd of December, where I confronted them. They admitted that something had gone on. Something took place.

The following day with all the family together, all of our kids, all of the Ensign kids, we confronted this issue in the Ensign house. John broke down. Cindy was beside herself, couldn't believe what had happened.

Things changed from then. Cindy really truly I think was devastated over what happened, couldn't fathom what had taken place. But, John... things began to change. In the early part of January, I began to notice things about John. Distancing. Things in our relationship. It wasn't like this real sorrowful man that had done this thing and just couldn't believe what had happened to these two families. He kind of went back to pursuing Cindy. Texting Cindy. Calling Cindy. Saying, 'Hey. How are you doing?' Reaching out to Cindy. 'We're on recess.' 20:36:03

These are really difficult days, really difficult times. And then the February incident occurs where first part of February work is tough. We travel together.

(on why he continued to work for Ensign)

We both worked for him. This put us in an unbelievable position. Our families, our lives were so intertwined. Our kids go to school together. Cindy is his treasurer. I am a top official. I mean this is significant news. This is. This is just hard to get your head around what's going on here.

(on why he didn't leave or break off the personal and professional relationship)

I believe Cindy. I believed Cindy then. I believe that Cindy wanted to get away and had John not been the pursuer in all of this, this would have never happened. This wouldn't have taken place this way. I have really seen that in her over this period of time. There's elements of this that just are not true, that are just not accurate in the way it's being depicted.


You got to look at the timeframe here Jon. There's a lot that's happened in between all of this. Did I write that letter to FOX and jump on it in January 08'? No. I didn't okay. When we get to this February encounter that takes place, which is very important. I think it's an important marker in all of this.

Again, I was eluding to the fact that John just became distant. Things became apparent that things were not settled, that this was not just something that happened that Cindy's very devastated over, that John... He's got some other things going on inside of him.

I chose to bring in some really close friends of ours. Men that we've known for a long time, ten plus years. Tim Coe (SP?). David Coe (SP?). Marty Sherman. I went to those men I think the evening before that letter was written. I talked with them about what was going on. I just said, 'I don't know what to do.'

Jon: You're talking about a letter that John Ensign wrote to your wife ...

Hampton: But the FOX News letter eludes to all of it. It talks to the Coburn event. It talks about the February 15th timeframe as critical.

Jon: In February, you contacted some people. I believe they were affiliated with this Christian fellowship organization, yes?

Hampton: It's more about where they live and how these men operate in their life. They're great men. They have a good heart.

Jon: Why did you contact them?

Hampton: Because, they're close friends. They're a part of the men who live at C Street.

Jon: What did you want them to do?

Hampton: Confront John. I wasn't comfortable where John was going with this. His truth. The things that he was telling me. His conduct towards me was this genuine, remorseful, broken man that did this unbelievable thing in December and realizes it and wants to go back to work on the right things in his life. He is not focused on those things. He is focused on something else.

So, I confront him with these men and Tom Coburn on the fact that, yes, you did make advances. You did pursue Cindy. Yes, something happened. You acknowledged this. And, these men just say, 'Oh my gosh Doug.' Jon, this is unbelievable.

(on how he found out Ensign was still pursuing his wife)

His conduct. His behavior. You've got to just imagine how difficult the work environment is. John really does, you come to find this out, have very strong feelings for Cindy. So, he doesn't want to end this. He kind of sees that we're stuck. We're in a situation here where it's not easy to navigate through.

Cindy tries to go back to work. Doug goes back to work. But, he really, he is pursuing Cindy.

Jon: John Ensign says this afffair went on until August.

Hampton: That didn't happen.

Jon: That didn't happen?

Hampton: It didn't happen like that in any way, shape or form. Cindy came very clean with a lot of things in March and solicited my help and asked for my help. Now, you know, the issue isn't about was it handled perfectly? Did it all go down perfectly in that situation? No. But, Cindy really wanted to pursue the right thing. John, quite honestly and you'll see through all of this. You'll see through this discovery that John, given the opportunity, chose John, chose what was best for John and kind of ram-rodded and ran through people, including those very close to him when he was confronted with this.

He wanted a relationship with Cindy.


(on whether he sought money from Ensign)

No, actually the first money that was presented was from these men that confronted John. These men were the ones that said what we need to do is get Doug Hampton's home paid for, and we need to get Doug Hampton some money. We need to get his family to Colorado.

Jon: That's what they said in front of John Ensign during this confrontation?

Hampton: Absolutely.

Jon: What was John Ensign's reaction?

Hampton: At that moment, he didn't quite know. He was really trying to, unbelievably I guess, take care of the moment where writing the letter was genuine. Coming clean and talking to everyone was a real genuine gesture. 'You're right. I'm screwing this whole thing up. I've got to stop this.' John not only felt that way and was so angry that I had brought these men together and confronted him that right after the letter was written and the men... I think Marty and Tim helped drive John down to FedEx and helped send this thing to Cindy... He called Cindy and said the letter's coming. 'Doug's ratted me out. Don't pay attention to the letter.'

So, the money and all of those things came from this group initiating initially what they believed it was going to take to take care of this.

Jon: Did you at any time subsequently go to John Ensign or his legal representative through your attorney and say, 'I need to be made whole here. I need restitution for my family?'

Hampton: Absolutely not.

Jon: You did not?

Hampton: I didn't talk to John Ensign personally at all. Our attorneys did talk. Our attorneys absolutely talked, because Senator Tom Coburn asked and was involved in these negotiations out of good will and good faith.

Jon: What were the negotiations for Mr. Hampton?

Hampton: The belief from Tom Coburn and many that some restitution needs to take place here.

Jon: But you believe that still, don't you?

Hampton: Absolutely.

Jon: You believe you need to be made financially whole, because John Ensign destroyed your ability to make a living. Don't you believe that?

Hampton: There's no question about that.

His personal pursuit of Cindy spilled over into, 'Hey I'm really sorry that you guys have to leave the organization. This isn't working.' The creation of the consulting, November, Inc. All of those tentacles were birthed because John needed things to go down like this. He was still in pursuit of Cindy. He needed me out of the organization. Cindy ultimately was asked to leave, basically by the family.

Jon: There were large amounts of money talked about between the attorneys, correct?

Hampton: Sure.

Jon: How much?

Hampton: Millions.

Jon: That's a lot of money. Most people would look at this...

Hampton: This is a grievous act. When you look at the details, when we talk about all of the things that have taken place as a result of John's actions, and leadership, and the decisions that he initiated, and things that were covered up to help this happen, and to keep this from coming out, and keep this from taking place, is really, genuinely impacted my family greatly. It's unbelievable.

Jon: Do you think he should resign?

Hampton: Absolutely.

Jon: Really, why?

Hampton: Because, I don't think his decision-making in the last couple of years is that of a United States Senator. Listen, we all make mistakes. We're all people. I'm not in any way, shape or form standing on a soapbox on that issue. But, in this time, in this time period, what took place with two employees, how he handled Cindy, how he handled Doug, how he handled the staff, how he handled the NRSC, how he led that story-making and all of that cover-up that took place, is not the behavior and conduct of a United States Senator in that position.

Jon: If he had agreed to pay you these millions of dollars, then you'd be OK with him still being a U.S. Senator? None of these issues would exist?

Hampton: No. I don't know that we had ever even gotten to that place. This was at the request of Tom Coburn and some people to try and help them manage John. This group in C Street, work with John, rehabilitate John, come alongside John. They just thought this was going to be best for both of our lives....

Jon: Tom Coburn, a U.S. Senator, told John Ensign, 'Listen, you've got to deal with this. Make these folks whole. Let them get out of your life. And, let's move on. Isn't that exactly what happened?

Hampton: Absolutely.


(on remorseful tone in Ensign's February 2008 letter to Cindy Hampton)

Twenty four hours later, he's with Cindy back in Las Vegas. This took place on a Thursday...

Jon: What?

Hampton: This took place on a Thursday. We normally traveled home on a Friday. John traveled home. We were home, and I confronted John and Cindy in a very difficult encounter a day after this letter was written. They had met. I confronted John, confronted Cindy. That weekend was a horrific weekend for our families. Darlene was down in San Diego with her little girl. That weekend and through that occurrence, John told me flat out, 'Doug, I'm in love with your wife.'

Jon: He said those words to you after he had written this letter saying he'd made a terrible mistake and he's repentant and this is about God.

Hampton: Absolutely. The weekend right after. I'm in love with your wife.

The last, I think, real talk so to speak with Darlene or that is in April. April of last year.

Somehow, John believed that my feelings or how I feel about Cindy is insignificant or detached so to speak from how I'm dealing with this whole employment, this whole 'I'm the Senator. The bottom line is I make the decisions and do the things that I want to do' so that he... Darlene reached out, somewhere in February, to Mike Slanker and said, 'This is going on.'

Of the NRSC, he is the political director, Mike Slanker.

Jon: You're saying Darlene Ensign called Mike Slanker?

Hampton: Yes, absolutely appealing for help. We were all appealing. I had appealed to the men and Tom Coburn for help. Darlene was reaching out and appealing to others for help.

Mike knew. When John knew that Mike knew, that's what's interesting in some of the stuff that's come out of here. Absolutely, the Slankers knew. We had to orchestrate through the NRSC...

Jon: He's denied that to the AP.

Hampton: That's just not right. That's wrong.

Jon: He knew when he hired you at November, Inc. what the circumstances were?

Hampton: Absolutely.

Jon: He knew everything?

Hampton: Yeah. Did he know... I have no point in reference. I can't go to the night that Darlene called Mike. OK. That night, but it spilled over into March and April. He was an intimate part of traveling with Ensign when he came to visit me downtown and said, 'Doug this is what we're going to do.' He's going to open November, Inc.. 'You're going to consult. I'm going to get you some clients. You're going to get back here to the state and out of my official office. That's what we're going to do. The steps we're going to take.' That was just told to me.

(on why he didn't refuse all offers and leave)

There were some definite exchanges, because lives, kids.. Our children referred to him as uncle. We had dinner together. Our kids are entwined. We're watching our children go through this from school. Their life. Their angle. Darlene. This is tragic. John is so focused, hyperfocused on what he wants and what he's pursuing that he's not seeing the collateral damage that's going on in people's lives.

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