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Why Now, John Ensign?

Nevada Sen. John Ensign. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) has yet to answer the most pressing question arising from his admission of an extramarital affair: why now, 10 months after his affair with a staffer ended, is he coming forward to air his dirty laundry?

That question has been posed to him by his hometown paper, the Las Vegas Sun. But so far, Ensign has declined to answer that and other important questions.

While some news organizations have published unsubstantiated reports alleging the senator had been blackmailed by his mistress's husband, the Sun reports today that neither the FBI nor the Las Vegas police department is investigating any claim that the couple - both of whom worked for Ensign - tried to extort hush money from him.

The Sun asked pointedly what we, too, have been wondering: "Has Ensign contacted authorities about the alleged extortion? If not, why not?"

"What other reason could Ensign have for revealing the affair?" came the second question. The paper said it has posed this and other questions to the senator's office directly, but has gotten no response.

The woman with whom Ensign had the affair, Cynthia Hampton, the former treasurer of Ensign's political committees, came forward yesterday to acknowledge the affair. Her husband, Douglas Hampton, served as a senior aide to Ensign in his Senate office.

As the Washington Post story notes today, Cynthia Hampton's salary doubled in 2008 during the time she had the affair with Ensign. Her husband got an additional two weeks of pay in April 2008 (two months before the affair ended) and their son was put on the payroll until the affair ended in mid August 2008.

The Sun asked today, " Were payments to the Hamptons, documented in Senate and federal election records, intended to ensure their silence about the affair?"

It's a question, along with others, we are anxiously awaiting to have answered. As the Washington Post editorialized today, Ensign "didn't explain why he had decided to disclose the affair, but Politico and other media outlets reported that the husband of the woman involved asked him for a substantial amount of money. It's an assertion that warrants further explanation."

Of course, the Post editorial page is none too pleased with Ensign for his trick amendment to the D.C. voting rights bill that would deny the District its right to write gun-control laws. "He claimed his interest was in gun rights, not in blocking democracy for the District," reads today's editorial. "If that were so, he might have simply moved to disallow the District's gun-regulation legislation; he didn't bother to try. More to the point, he would never, in a million years, strip Nevada officials of their right to write local laws or in any other way visit upon them so extreme a sovereignty-stripping measure. But then, what works for Mr. Ensign at any given moment is the only thing that seems to matter."

For the meantime, Ensign's colleagues continue to pray for him and hope pesky reporters will let the sinner sin in secrecy. As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said yesterday, "I have plenty of sins, and I'm not going to tell you about them."

By Mary Ann Akers  |  June 18, 2009; 9:41 AM ET
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As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said yesterday, "I have plenty of sins, and I'm not going to tell you about them."

Oh CRAP! another one..

Posted by: hayden1 | June 18, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand why the Post doesn't run a picture of Cynthia Hampton. She is a major person in the story and she has admitted her participation in it. There is some hard evidence of money transferring too, so it isn't just lust but lust and now greed. Why can't we see a picture of the woman for whom the honorable senator would throw away his kingdom? Who is the victim?

Posted by: blasmaic | June 18, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: benighse | June 18, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Obviously Ensign cannot compete with Giuliani (three wives, many mistresses) or Gingrich or even McCain for the Republican presidential nomimation without strong proof of his masculinity. Who do you think he is, Larry Craig?

Posted by: spencer1 | June 18, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I see the double standards are alive and well. How many democrats have done the same thing and only come forward after being caught. Another words build a bridge and get over it.

Posted by: mburton325 | June 18, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Why now Ensign? Because adultery has become a qualifier for running for president...which Ensign wants to do in 2012. After all, the great presidents from the liberal side have been adulterers: Kennedy, Clinton etc. From the conservative side: Eisenhower, etc. So what is wrong with Ensign qualifying himself for POTUS? Studies supposedly show one in four married men have commtted adultery. So Ensign just endeared himself to 25% of both parties males without campaigning a bit. As long as society sees adultery as some kind of medal awarded for "superior performance" why not? ssj.

Posted by: ssjackson | June 18, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

It's interesting that "honesty," "coming clean" or "guilt" are not mentioned as reasons for his announcement.

Posted by: Grandblvd03 | June 18, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I don't agree with many of Senator Ensign's politics. That being said he is a good senator and understands the issues that are important to the State of Nevada. His private life is his private life just as it was with President Clinton. We must hold our politicians accountable to represent their states but we are not judge and jury over their personal lives. Let's move on to the real issues such as healthcare and the economy.

Posted by: clcochran1804 | June 18, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

This is an excellent post. Superb and flawless writing. The excitement of the story just radiates. Keep up the great work.

Posted by: MikeK3 | June 18, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

this is a preemptive effort in anticipation of a major financial-political-bimbo eruption. when the full truth emerges, it will be the taxpayer that really got screwed here as campaign funds and Senatorial prerogatives were the currency used to get this woman in bed with the major hypocrite from Nevada

Incredibly, Harry Reid now looks like the less offensive Nevada Senator.

Posted by: malachhamovess | June 18, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Why now?

Because Ensign figures if he gets this out now, the Republican Religious base is mentally infirm enough to forget his affairs when it comes time to run for President.

Of course, he is correct.

Posted by: plaza04433 | June 18, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Well at least we didn't have to watch a "suffering" wife standing next to this hypocrite ... that's a relief for us!

Posted by: nateroth1 | June 18, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

There are a number of allegations that Ensign had another affair in 2002. Is this just Internet nonsense or is there any truth to such allegations?

Posted by: ourbroker | June 18, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Couldn't agree with your more, spencer1.

Another Republican shows that he too is a man of the "righteous" and "moral" party.

I'm starting to wonder what's next from the GOP, a party that claims moral superiority. Sex with sheep???

I'll admit the Democrats have had their fair share of shame -- but it's the Republicans who strut around pretending they have the moral high ground, that somehow they're better "Christians" than their counterparts, that they represent the values of America.

Well, if the values of America are:


sex-texting people who work for you,

dumping loyal wives (like Gingrich) when the wife gets cancer, (like McCain) when the wife ends up with a limp.....

Then the GOP is a prime example of those values.....

Posted by: abby0802 | June 18, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

The funniest thing I ever read comes from Milbank's 'comment' section.

"And god said....thou shall not put thy rod into thy staff."

If you don't think that's funny you're dead!

Posted by: 1418 | June 18, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Blue or Red, straight or gay, what all of these idiots have in common is the Y chromosome. Elect more women and the problem goes away. Not because women don't have affairs, but because women honor the public trust.

Posted by: conchfc | June 18, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

A senator saying he's sinned but won't tell anyone about it, sounds like he's issuing a challenge (like a former U.S. Senator from Colorado telling reporters to follow him).

Posted by: Sutter | June 18, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

He's got plans in 2012. Pull off the band-aid now and it'll be largely forgotten in several years. Honesty and guilt are things between him and his wife. Admission of infidelity is the new inhaling. Making an announcement is political.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | June 18, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

And this guy claims to be a member of the "Promise Keepers"... What a joke. I guess the bumper sticker on his limo that says "I love my wife" should read "^and his too."

Posted by: YouMustBeJoking | June 18, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

For those who see a double standard vis a vis Clinton, Edwards and other democrats; those who are being used for comparison did not join a Christian based group called "promise keepers", or get elected by luring voters by presenting themselves as morally purer than the dirty masses of middle class America. If you can't see that, you're not looking.

Posted by: bflagg | June 18, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

"I see the double standards are alive and well. How many democrats have done the same thing and only come forward after being caught."

Every time this happens (and it happens a lot) we have to explain very slowly to the Republicans what hypocrisy means and why this is not a double standard.

Republicans present themselves as the party of morals and family values. They make it a major part of their campaign platform. Once they make that decision, it becomes incumbent on them to FOLLOW THROUGH. No one is forcing them to claim the mantle of righteousness, but if they're going to do so for political gain then they open themselves up to charges of hypocrisy when their actions run counter to their rhetoric.

Democrats make no such promises, and thus are not held to the same standard. For instance, John Edwards did not go around for years chastising the morally depraved for cheating on their spouses. Had he done so, he would have been rightly slammed for blatant hypocrisy.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | June 18, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

At least his wife wasn't in the Hospital with cancer when he cheated on her.

Posted by: HemiHead66 | June 18, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

The GOP's answer to John Edwards. At least he didn't father a baby, and his wife is not dying of cancer.

Posted by: ajoyner1 | June 18, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

A politicians private life should their business unless in the case of so many God fearing moral hypocritical Republicans who like to stand in judgment of others.If we gave a lie detector test to the rest of the Republicans and some Democrats we would find many more who can not keep their zippers up.
Politicians lie and cheat whats worse is getting donations from big corporations and then voting in their behalf and against the common person best interest.

Posted by: fotoartiste | June 18, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Ensign is a crook, backed by the jewish lobby AIPAC and its media. This low-life scum cheered as Israeli bombs devastated Gaza in December 2008. Ensign pretends to be a God fearing Christian, but has no sympathy for the 1500 Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza, including estimated 800 women and children. The good people of Nevada should kick this scum out.

Posted by: timsz247 | June 18, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Yeah and Lindsay Graham was another repubican who pushed the impeachment of president Clinton, the republican hypocrites are crawling out of the woodwork. I hope they all get exposed

Posted by: LDTRPT25 | June 18, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps his wife is divorcing him on grounds of adultry and he knows it will be public record in days. So, he's making a pre-emptive public confession...playing the 'how contrite am I' role.

Time will tell.

Posted by: mosthind | June 18, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Wait 'til he confesses to the SECOND worst thing he did in his life...THE FIRST AFFAIR IN 2002....Was this a real and humble confession when he misses that first character blemish mark by seven years, or maybe he's not sorry for that one???....Bet there is more tomorrow!

Get ready for 2012:

Maybe John Ensign can run with David Vitter:

Bumper sticker:

Ensign/Vitter in 2012
Protect Marriage, Screw Us!

Posted by: benighse | June 18, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

'Holier-than-thou' Republicans are disgusting. They claim the 'high road' and preach about family values. Then time and time again, they're revealed as the
HYPOCRITES they are.

Here's a tip Republicans, stop preaching to the rest of us, then your indiscretions won't seem so utterly repulsive.

Posted by: ethereal_reality | June 18, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said yesterday, "I have plenty of sins, and I'm not going to tell you about them."

Sounds like he's saying he's not ready to come out of the closet yet...

Posted by: jpjudge | June 18, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Clinton had oral sex with a single woman who did not have a direct family who was impacted by the act.

Ensign had repeated vaginal sex with his best friend's wife who also had a son. Also, both the friend and wife got fired from their jobs as a result of the affair.

Seems to me that Ensign's actions were far more destructive than Clinton's.


Posted by: schoengold | June 18, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

God bless his little heart. Now that their..."marriage is stronger than ever"...will he now be a double down promise keeper? You know, double down your bet Vegas style.
Isn't there a teaching in his religion: "Beware the Hypocrite"?
How many times can one be born again?
Just a thought.

Posted by: whisper12340 | June 18, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

You mean "Don't ask, don't tell" Lindsay Graham?

Everyone already knows his secret... except Fox News viewers of course.

Posted by: j_mcdouglas | June 18, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Why do Americans still believe anything these televangelist Republicans say?

Republican voters are like those grannies who give all their money to Pat Robertson... just hopeless and sad.

Posted by: j_mcdouglas | June 18, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

The superfluous mention of Ensign's attempt to deny Washington, D.C. from enacting gun control laws is no worse than The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics preventing a referendum on whether Washington, D.C. will recognize gay marriages. Politicians act largely outside the scope of public opinion and the public interest.

Posted by: carolinemiranda | June 18, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

The RNC was paying the Hamptons' son a monthly stipend. Probably some news agency or the DOJ was about to bust it wide open.

The RNC should definitely be investigated for helping Ensign try and hush up his adultery.

Posted by: j_mcdouglas | June 18, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Hey Senator, as "Promise Keeper"(, you may wanna check No.s 3 & 4 again:

A Promise Keeper is committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity.

A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection and biblical values.

Posted by: goyo1588 | June 18, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

All those "moral" poiticians are publicly opposed to gay and lesbians being constitutionally allowed to be involved in sex at all, but privately have no "moral" problems being constitutionally allowed to put their collective peck-ers in any peck-ee they can find.

...We require "financial disclosures" to be filed annually for politicians, why not a literal "government affairs disclosure" requirement as well. Then, if the adultery or sexcapades are not listed on the diclosure form, but they are found out later, the politician is automatically removed from office. These could be listed under the disclosure form section: "Rod in Staff".

Posted by: benighse | June 18, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

[As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said yesterday, "I have plenty of sins, and I'm not going to tell you about them."]
My "gaydar" tells me about them, he doesn't have to.
Here is some juicy speculation. John Ensign may have been having affairs with both the husband and the wife. That would add the extra delicious twist of lemon to the mix.

Posted by: ChicagoJim | June 18, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

The fall of a hypocrite is a beautiful thing to behold!

Posted by: ChicagoJim | June 18, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

When Wash DC was established, the intent was that it would have NO home rule, because all the residents would be gov't employees or contractors. The only reason they have ANY, is because it was framed as a (black) civil rights issue, and the Democrats saw a chance for more Ds in Congress.
Clinton was not impeached for one of his many affairs. He was impeached for giving false testimony / lying / perjury when one of his alleged sexual harrassment victims sued him for $700,000. Perjury is perjury, whether it's real estate, sub-prime mortgages, or playing with cigars.

Posted by: sampjack | June 18, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

The reason he held a press conference is that he had burned through all of the campaign money and taxpayers money to pay these people off. Now the husband wants his money. Like you expect a U.S. Senator to be responsible for his actions. You think personal responsibility is important? He resigned from his leadership position. Wow what a sacrifice. The Washington Post needs to hire some reporters and file an ethics complaint with the ethics committee. You need to call every conservative think tank in town starting with the Heritage foundation and ask them to state their position on Adultery. We know their position on homosexual marriage. We know their position on abortion-late term and otherwise. We just need to report on what the Heritage Foundation and all the other Republican front groups on adultery. You will find that if it is done by a man and republican it is forgivable. It is not a penumbra. It is right there in the 10 commandments. What is your position-just like murder. What should be done to a man that commits adultery. I want to hear
the heritage Fraud explain this one. I want to know what Mitch McConnell and Boehner and the rest of Republicans think about adultery. What should be the punishment for a man who commits this crime? Time to do some reporting Washington Post. For a change.

Posted by: HelloNewman1 | June 18, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Is it possible that we can bring to a halt all of this hyperbole about who is the most "immoral" and/or "rightous?"

Members of both parties have been abusing their positions for years quite probably because they believe that they are somehow invincible and that their stupidity will never be discovered. They become "power driven" in much the same manner that Senator (Ma'am) Boxer did in denigrating the General before her committee the other day. These people lose apparently lose their sense of rational thought.

But for you Repub haters (this poster a 77 year old Dem from the Depression) that seem to feel that the Repubs are more vile than the Dems I give you a few of "our" more notable sinners.

William J Clinton - perjury for lying (not his sex act)
Gary Hart - Donna Rice on the boat - presidential candidate
John Edwards - wife with cancer
John Kennedy - President - a man who confided to his inner staff that it was necessary for him to have sex at least once a day.
Ted Kennedy - Senator, still in office - drowned Mary K. and drummed up an unbelievaveable tale about swimming the channel at Chappiquadic(sp)
Wilbur Mills- Senator - discovered swimming in a statuary pool with his parmour.

And for those of you who have no sense of history I will suggest you review the personal life of one of the most respected (by the Dems) of our time:

FDR - died in the presence of his mistress while his wife was in NY.

Stupidity is not prejudice - it infects both parties - always has and always will.

My solemn wish that all of these elected officials and CEO's who have failed would do what their counterparts in Japan do.

Committ "hari-kari."

Posted by: dharper2 | June 18, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

'The Divine Comedy', by Dante Ailghieri
edited by Mark Musa

Posted by: edtroyhampton | June 18, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

To stop housing scams, we must continue investigating U.S. Attorneys firing scandal.

Posted by: HousingScams | June 18, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

For every Democrat caught in this type of situation there are 10 Republicans caught doing the same thing. There is no double standard. Just 10 times as many Republicans getting caught with their whipper in the draft. Maybe, Larry Flynt can out Lindsey Graham. I'll bet that's one sordid set of facts.

Posted by: Caliguy55 | June 19, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Doug Hampton, husband of Cynthia Hampton, blamed Ensign with “relentless pursuit of my wife” and for their “dismissal" in his letter to Megyn Kelly, and said, "I have sought a number of lawyers who are having difficulty finding charges that may hold up in court.”

Ensign's affair with Cynthia Hampton occurred while she, her husband and their adult son were all on the senator’s payroll... from December, 2007 through August 2008 and even AFTER Doug and Cynthia Hampton were "dismissed".

Because Fox news did not immediately report the letter and it's contents, some left-wingers are accusing Fox of covering up for Ensign. Maybe FOX was trying to get the facts straight before jumping out and printing a story they only had one side you think? Maybe that is why they take pride in their motto, "Fair and Balanced News" that you can depend on, instead of printing rumors and innuendos.

Here are some things that I am wondering about. Why is Ensign the only guilty party here? I've always heard that it takes two to have an affair. Doug Hampton is complaining about Ensign relentlessly pursuing his wife. Why didn't she relentlessly thwart his advances? Takes two to tango ya know. Maybe Fox news was wondering the same thing before they threw caution to the wind and reported one person's claim in a letter to Megyn Kelly.

Here are some other questionable facts they were probably looking into: 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.

After Ensign reconciled with his wife and dismissed Cynthia Hampton, he paid her a severance out of his own pocket.

Doug Hampton took a job with Allegiant Air, a Las Vegas company whose CEO is a major Ensign supporter.

If Ensign ruined the Hamptons lives and careers, wasn't Cynthia Hampton equally as guilty of ruining their lives ? If she had wanted to resist his advances, she could have quit the job and claimed sexual harrassment.

Looks like Doug Hampton is just getting even with Ensign by ruining his life and career. So be it.

Posted by: okiesplace | June 19, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Hmmmmn-all that money to the Hamptons for sex. Sounds like prostitution to me. Seriously now. Each and everyone of the four involved are guilty of behavior that equates them with scumbags.Who cares about "all their troubles"?

Posted by: granny5 | June 19, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

To Mburton, there is no double standard at work here, Sen. Ensign was found out by the Las Vegas Sun, his hometown newspaper, which has already questioned him about this incident, so Sen. Ensign didn't nobly step up and fall on his sword, he stepped forward only after being questioned about it and rumors of blackmail started flying around.

Posted by: jifler2004 | June 20, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

What I want to know is Senator Coburn's role in Ensign's weird tristing. According to Cynthia Hampton's husband, Cynthia used to come over to the apartment that Ensign and Coburn shared; and her husband said this happened while Coburn was there. So, Coburn knew about Ensign's affair and did nothing to stop it.

What difference does it make? Both Ensign and Coburn claim to be holier than the Pope. Both of them want to throw people in jail for "crimes" like assisting an abortion, sodomy, and assisted suicide.

Do Democrats have affairs? Sure they do. Gavin Newsom did nearly the same thing. But Republicans talk like they are morally superior and they can make laws telling the rest of us who we can marry, what we can or cannot do with our bodies, and that public schools need Christianity. So, when Republicans talk in public about the importance of "family values" but don't apply these principles to themselves, it is hypocritical. The Democrats never claim to speak for God.

Posted by: Renu1 | June 21, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Senator Ensign is a veterinarian by training. How can his extra-marital fence-jumping habit be broken?

"Neuter and Spay, it's the Only Way."


Posted by: MikeLicht | June 22, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

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