Thursday, June 18, 2009 | 1:50 p.m.
- Unanswered: Why he told (6-18-2009)
- Ensign resigns GOP leadership post (6-17-2009)
- Ensign fallout could weaken GOP efforts to rebuild party at state, national levels (6-17-2009)
- Ensign's mea culpa tops bad day for GOP (6-17-2009)
- Ensign acknowledges extramarital affair (6-16-2009)
- Sen. John Ensign read a statement about his extramarital affair with a member of his campaign staff at a press conference on Tuesday, June 16, 2009.
Beyond the Sun
WASHINGTON -- Sen. John Ensign’s office said today that the reason he went public about an affair with a former staffer that ended more than a year ago is because the woman’s husband, a former top aide to the senator, had approached the media with the story.
Earlier reports have said that senator came forward because the couple, Cynthia Hampton, and her husband, Doug, had tried to extort the senator for hush money.
But the Las Vegas Sun reported today that neither the FBI nor Metro Police in Las Vegas are investigating any such claim.
Ensign’s office declined to say today whether the Hamptons sought funds to keep quiet. But the office confirmed reports that the senator disclosed the affair Tuesday because it might be outed.
“Mr. Hampton first approached the media,” Ensign’s spokesman said by e-mail. “He approached a major television news channel before Tuesday. We learned of this fact before the press conference.”
Ensign held a press conference on Tuesday in Las Vegas to publicly acknowledge the affair.
The Sun was trying to reach the Hamptons’ attorney today for comment.
The couple’s Las Vegas attorney, Daniel Albregts, told the Sun Wednesday that "in time the Hamptons will be ready and willing to tell their side of the story.” He said the couple did "everything possible to keep this matter private."
Ensign’s sudden acknowledgement of the affair with Cynthia Hampton, which occurred while she, her husband and their adult son were all on the senator’s payroll, continues to create fallout in both Washington and Nevada.
The Ensign-backed Republican Renewal Project -- a political action committee in Nevada launched on Ensign’s vision to rejuvenate the state’s Republican Party after Democratic gains -- had been scheduled to host a fundraising BBQ Friday.
Ensign was to be the featured guest at the dinner, but it has been postponed, according to the Web site.
Ensign remains away from Washington, missing several votes, and is not expected to return until next week.
The Senate is scheduled to resume debate next week on a tourism bill important to Nevada that Ensign co-sponsored with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The Sun reported today that records show payroll payments to the Hampton family during the eight-month affair, which began in late 2007 and ended in August 2008.
Cynthia Hampton’s salary doubled as she took over as treasurer for Ensign’s leadership campaign account until she left in May 2008. Doug Hampton’s final month’s salary as a top aide at the senator’s office was nearly $20,000 -- more than his normal pay at the $160,000-a-year-job, although the extra sum could have been for accrued sick or vacation time, or as a stipend.
The couple have not worked for Ensign since May 2008.
The couple’s son, Brandon, was also on the payroll with a $1,000-a-month summer job at the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2008, which Ensign chaired at the time.
The New York Times reported today that after Ensign reconciled with his wife and dismissed Cynthia Hampton, he paid her a severance out of his own pocket.
Ensign’s office has declined to comment on the Hamptons’ salaries, or any severance.
Doug Hampton took a job with Allegiant Air, a Las Vegas company whose CEO is a major Ensign supporter.
A news Web site reported today that Brandon Hampton is also now employed by a Allegiant Air.
“Brandon Hampton, the 19-year-old son of Doug and Cynthia Hampton, works as a representative in the call center,” the news website TPMmuckraker reported.
“And Doug Hampton became a vice president of government affairs for Allegiant in August 2008, according to the spokeswoman, Tyri Squyres.”
Squyres told the Web site that Doug Hampton “was hired based on his experience and credentials."