Muted Reaction to Ensign Revelations
By Dan Eggen
The revelation Thursday that Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) enlisted his wealthy parents to pay $96,000 to his mistress and her family has so far produced a few calls for Ensign's resignation from conservative activists back home in Nevada but little reaction among lawmakers of either party.
The closest thing to criticism today of Ensign came from intraparty rival John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who took over for the Nevadan as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
"It's not good," Cornyn said of the affair, but he added that he had not heard any talk of Ensign stepping down. Asked by reporters whether Ensign could recover politically from the revelations, he responded: "I just don't know the answer to that."
Ensign first admitted several weeks ago to an eight-month affair with a former campaign aide, but the admission was quickly overshadowed by South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's own sex scandal, the death of pop star Michael Jackson and the abrupt resignation of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The respite ended earlier this week, however, when the former mistress's husband -- former Ensign chief of staff Doug Hampton -- went public with a raft of new allegations, including a purported $25,000 severance payment to his wife.
A handwritten letter also surfaced from Ensign to Cynthia L. Hampton in February 2008: "What I did with you was wrong," he wrote. "I used you for my own pleasure." The affair continued until August, however.
The new allegations prompted a statement from Ensign's attorney on Thursday outlining eight $12,000 payments to the Hampton family in April 2008 from Ensign's mother and father, a millionaire casino magnate. The gifts were given "out of concern for the well-being of longtime family friends during a difficult time," the lawyer said.
While sitting politicians are mostly holding fire, some conservative activists are unhappy with continuing affair-related revelations about Ensign, a proclaimed religious conservative. Nevada blogger Chuck Muth told the Las Vegas Sun that Ensign should resign and questioned whether he would have enough support to mount a 2012 reelection bid. "If he gets through the summer, he can weather it out," Muth said. "There just can't be any more shoes."
July 10, 2009; 7:16 PM ET
Categories: Ethics and Rules
Save & Share: Previous: Congress Considers Beverage 'Sugar Tax' to Pay for Health Care
Next: House Democrats Agree on Tax Hike to Help Revamp Health Care
Posted by: ceflynline | July 10, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MichaelLittleBig | July 13, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: bpai_99 | July 13, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: asclepious2 | July 13, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.