New turn propels Ensign scandal
Husband reportedly demanded money
LAS VEGAS – Nevada Sen. John Ensign’s admission of an extramarital affair has turned into something of a saga here, with his aides on Friday accusing the husband of his former mistress of trying to weasel money from the once-rising GOP star.
Tory Mazzola, an Ensign spokesman, said in an e-mail that the husband, Doug Hampton, had recently through an attorney “made exorbitant demands for cash and other financial benefits.”
“Doug Hampton’s outrageous demand was referred to Sen. Ensign’s legal counsel, who is handling the matter going forward,” Mazzola said.
Meanwhile, Hampton had unloaded his woes to Fox News in a distraught letter, in which he said Ensign had “ruined our lives and careers and left my family in shambles,” and that he yearned for “justice, help and restitution.”
In essence, the former co-workers and golfing buddies are engaged in the kind of finger-pointing typical of a soured relationship – only the accusations are graver and the stakes far higher.
On Tuesday, the day after Fox received the letter, Ensign abruptly admitted to a months-long affair with an aide, Cynthia Hampton. On Wednesday, he resigned as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, a top Senate leadership position, after critics branded him a hypocrite for chastising others for their indiscretions – including then-President Bill Clinton, whom he called on to resign – and then indulging in his own.
In his letter, printed Friday by the Las Vegas Sun, Hampton described the Ensigns as “lifelong friends.” Their homes are in the same tony section of town; their children attended the same schools. Ensign eventually hired both Hamptons: Doug as his administrative assistant, Cynthia for his campaign and his political action committee.
The extramarital relationship began in December 2007, both sides have said. In February 2008, Hampton’s letter says, he confronted Ensign at the senator’s Washington home.
“Senator Ensign’s conduct and relentless pursuit of my wife led to our dismissal in April of 2008,” Hampton’s letter says. “I would like to say he stopped his heinous conduct and pursuit upon our leaving but … his actions did not subside until August of 2008.”