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Coburn Says He Counseled Ensign to End Affair

By Dan Eggen and Philip Rucker
Aides to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) acknowledged Wednesday that he counseled Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) to break off an affair with a staffer, but they denied allegations that Coburn suggested giving the woman and her husband financial assistance to start a new life.

"Dr. Coburn did everything he could to encourage Senator Ensign to end his affair and to persuade Senator Ensign to repair the damage he had caused to his own marriage and the Hamptons' marriage," Coburn spokesman John Hart said in a statement. "Had Senator Ensign followed Dr. Coburn's advice, this episode would have ended, and been made public, long ago."

The statement came in reaction to a televised interview with former Ensign aide Doug Hampton, who said that the Nevada Republican persisted in his pursuit of his wife, Cynthia, despite pleas from Coburn and others to end the dalliance.

Hampton, who has not previously talked publicly about the scandal, also alleged that Coburn and other intermediaries urged Ensign to pay the Hamptons to help "take care of" the affair, according to excerpts of the interview.

"These men were the ones that said, what we need to do is get Doug Hampton's home paid for, we need to get Doug Hampton some money and we need to get his family to Colorado," Hampton said, adding that they were discussing giving the Hamptons "millions" of dollars.

"Senator Tom Coburn asked and was involved in these negotiations out of goodwill and good faith," Hampton said, referring to "the belief from Tom Coburn and many that some restitution needs to take place here."

Coburn's office disputed the assertion. "Doug's statement is false," Hart said.

Hampton's wife was employed as treasurer of Ensign's various campaign committees. Hampton said that Ensign paid her a $25,000 severance fee.

Federal election records do not show any such payment from either of Ensign's two major political committees. Some watchdog groups argue that a payment of that size could be construed as an in-kind donation that would exceed federal contribution limits.

During the interview with Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston, Hampton portrayed Ensign as obsessive in pursuit of his wife, and he produced a handwritten February 2008 letter from the senator to her.

Tory Mazzola, Ensign's spokesman, said that Hampton "was consistently inaccurate in his statements" during the interview.

By Post Editor  |  July 8, 2009; 11:50 PM ET
Categories:  GOP Leaders  
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"Dr. Coburn did everything he could to encourage Senator Ensign to end his affair and to persuade Senator Ensign to repair the damage he had caused to his own marriage and the Hamptons' marriage," Coburn spokesman John Hart said in a statement. "Had Senator Ensign followed Dr. Coburn's advice, this episode would have ended, and been made public, long ago."

Really? Then why didn't Coburn go public himself? Clearly, he DID NOT do "everything he could" since the affair 1. continued, and 2. Coburn kept quiet about it.

If Coburn had gone to the press with the information, this would have been dealt with long ago. But he did not do that. So I have big problems with the statement from his office.

From this angle, it sure looks like Coburn did everything he could to keep this away from the public, and thus enabled Ensign to continue to cheat on his wife and sin in a most prolific and unethical manner.

And Coburn tacitly admits this much in his statement.

Pathetic.

Posted by: fred_p_harris | July 9, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Here again is the media demonstrating it's obcession with continuing a story that has run it's course. The article seems to be strongly suggesting that Senator Coburn is guilty of enabling Senator Ensign's affair.

If the Hampton's received some sort of extorted funds from Senator Ensign or his staff - you have a story...if Senator Coburn participated in a financial resolution - you have another story.

At this time you have nothing more than the statement of a former staffer who "alleges" certain "behaviors" and "actions" by Senator Coburn. Are you trying to make a "mountain out of a mole hill"?

One would hope that the "Post" would not be so ethically challenged as to behave like the vilest scandal sheet.

Posted by: vagaf31 | July 9, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

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