Tags: John Ensign | FBI | investigation | scandal

FBI Releases Details About Ex-Sen. John Ensign Scandal

By    |   Monday, 29 December 2014 06:35 PM

New FBI documents are shedding light on the investigation of former Nevada Sen. John Ensign, who resigned in 2011 amid scandal.

Ensign was once thought to be a potential Republican candidate for president in the 2012 election before his reputation was ruined thanks to an affair with a campaign staffer, illegal payments to keep the woman and her husband quiet, and shady lobbying deals.

Ensign was never charged with anything, but the husband of the woman with whom he had the affair was convicted of illegal lobbying in 2012.

The New York Times cites newly released FBI documents that show why the Justice Department declined to prosecute Ensign.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, first acquired the documents after suing under the Freedom of Information Act.

Ensign had an affair with Cynthia Hampton, one of his campaign aides and the wife of Ensign's close friend and staffer Douglas Hampton, between 2007 and 2008. The affair became public in 2009.

Ensign, according to the documents, tried to find Douglas Hampton a lobbying job after he learned of the affair by pressuring political donors and his business associates.

"Mr. Hampton sought outside assistance in ending the affair, and on February 14, 2008, Sen. Ensign's 'spiritual advisor' Tim Coe, along with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and others, confronted Sen. Ensign and advised him to end the affair," the report reads. "The affair nevertheless continued until July of 2008. Mr. Coe decided that having Mr. Hampton employed as the Senator's top aide was no longer in the parties' best interests.

"Accordingly, an exit plan for Mr. Hampton was devised under which he would move full-time to Nevada and work for a previously created company, November Inc., as a lobbyist — a job secured directly with Sen. Ensign's assistance. Sen. Ensign promised to assist Mr. Hampton in finding clients in his new position.

"In addition, the Hamptons received a check for $96,000 from the Ensign Family Trust. The Trust was controlled by Sen. Ensign's father, Michael Ensign, who authorized the check. Mr. Hampton had identified a previous $25,000 payment from Sen. Ensign to Ms. Hampton personally as 'severance,' but when news of the $96,000 payment broke, Sen. Ensign's office explained the $25,000 severance payment really was part of the $96,000 'gift' from his parents.

"Notes Mr. Hampton made contemporaneously with conversations he had with the senator, however, which he shared with the New York Times, reveal that the money was conceived as severance for both Hamptons," the report says.

The report says the FBI initially investigated whether Ensign broke any laws by finding work for Douglas Hampton. Ultimately he was not charged, but Hampton — who was ordered not to lobby the Senate for one year after he started his new job because of his close ties to the legislative body — was slapped with illegal lobbying charges.

Hampton had violated the one-year "cooling off" period during which he was not allowed to lobby the Senate, and in 2012 he pleaded guilty. He was placed on probation, divorced his wife, and declared bankruptcy.

"This has crushed me," Hampton told the Times. "John Ensign orchestrated everything — the affair, my dismissal from his Senate staff, the lobbying work, everything — but at the end of the day, I'm the one who lost everything."

Last year, Ensign, a veterinarian, opened an animal hospital in Las Vegas.

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New FBI documents are shedding light on the investigation of former Nevada Sen. John Ensign, who resigned in 2011 amid scandal. Ensign was once thought to be a potential Republican candidate for . . .
John Ensign, FBI, investigation, scandal
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2014-35-29
Monday, 29 December 2014 06:35 PM
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