July 9th, 2009
04:17 PM ET
13 years ago

Statement: Senator's parents 'made gifts' to mistress's family

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/09/art.ensignfrown0709.gi.jpg caption="A statement from a lawyer for Sen. John Ensign said that the senator's parents made payments totalling $96,000 to the family of Ensign's former mistress."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The parents of Sen. John Ensign gave a total of $96,000 to the family of Cynthia Hampton, a woman with whom the Nevada Republican had carried on an extra-marital affair, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the Nevada senator's attorney.

"In April 2008, Senator John Ensign's parents each made gifts to Doug Hampton, Cindy Hampton, and two of their children in the form of a check totaling $96,000," said Paul Coggins of Fish & Richardson, who is representing Ensign. "Each gift was limited to $12,000. The payments were made as gifts, accepted as gifts and complied with tax rules governing gifts.

"After the Senator told his parents about the affair, his parents decided to make the gifts out of concern for the well-being of long-time family friends during a difficult time. The gifts are consistent with a pattern of generosity by the Ensign family to the Hamptons and others.

None of the gifts came from campaign or official funds nor were they related to any campaign or official duties. Senator Ensign has complied with all applicable laws and Senate ethics rules."

The revelation comes one day after Doug Hampton, the husband of Ensign's former mistress, told Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston that Ensign paid Cynthia Hampton, who was also an employee of Ensign's political action committee and re-election campaign, more than $25,000 in severance when she stopped working for Ensign's political operation.


Related: Report: Senator tried to stop colleague's affair
Related: I will never reveal what I told Ensign, Colburn says

Filed under: John Ensign
soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. Daniel

    "Christians are not perfect, just forgiven" so they say. They just expect everybody else to be perfect and responsible. My question to all of the smug, self-important, windbag religionists has always been "What the hell are you trying to hide?" We are now beginning to find out at least on one level. That they are most often conservatives should come as no surprise. Just one more way of pretending to be better than others and one more way trying to keep people down in order to preserve their privilege.

    July 9, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  2. Dizzy

    To Terry – who you sleep with IS your own business – unless, of course, you are married – public servant or not. This constitutes a breach of ethical behavior which leads to other questions. What else would be he willing to do if it was in his personal interest? Can we trust him to do what's best for his constituants and the country when he is either amoral or self-absorbed. For several decades our "leaders" have been setting a very bad example – if we hold them to a higher standard it's simply for that reason – "lead by example."

    July 9, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  3. hmarie775

    Honestly, who CARES what these men/women do in their personal lives? I'm sick of seeing our politicians lives played out like a soap opera. As long as they are doing their jobs and doing them well who cares if they are getting nooky on the side, that's thier personal life and it should remain that. People forget politicians are HUMAN beings just like the rest of us. Americans are so nosy, up in everyone's personal business just chomping at the bit to get the next skeleton out of the closet. We should go back to the days of paying attention to what's important – the work that is getting done in Washington and elsewhere, not what's going on in these people's bedrooms.

    July 9, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  4. You know the Repubs

    The repugs motto has always been:

    DO AS I SAY! NOT AS I DO! That is always the base of power seekers and christian conservative values. Remember when people preach about church\christian values from a collections of books called the bible that were written in the middle east you know they only saved or modified the versus that keep you down and prop them up!

    July 9, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. Tom

    Another hit for the "Moral Majority".

    July 9, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. Terry

    We are seeing the representation of "haves" and "have-nots" in America. Daddy's boy, the Senator, gets in trouble, just pay to make the trouble go away. Now you see why the Members of Congress and the Senate will spend whatever it takes to stay in Office – the unlimited money supply provided to them. America is failing, not because our manufacturing sector is failing, but because our leaders are spending too much time covering their rear-end, and making millions why the average American is just trying to get by.

    July 9, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  7. Rod Steel

    Yes, democrats and republicans both have affairs, but only republicans have built a platform of family values that contradicts their own behavior.

    July 9, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  8. Sammy

    Having extra marital affairs out of wedlock is a way of promoting family values, according to the Republican dictionary. Bill Clinton did the same and was impeached by the Republicans. Where are they now on this issue. Their tails are now hidden under their behind.

    July 9, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  9. Patty in the CA mountains

    Ensign was and is a creep. Was a creep the first day he stepped foot in Nevada to run for office – – carpetbagging I think it's called – – typical republican move. Any one who lived in Nevada at that time knows better than trust this creep any further than he can be thrown. Now he's been exposed at just plain dumb. He has over the years demanded the resignation of others, why not him?

    July 9, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  10. Mocha Brown

    I am neither republican or democrat! But I find it just a tad hilarious that the so-called morally high-minded republicans are always caught up in these kinds of scandals or scandals involving young men! The democrats can be pandering hypocrites but my goodness for a party that likes to boast about their Judeo-Christian, family values I just find it rather ironic that every six months or so a republican congressman, senator or governor is entangled in some kind of sexual scandal!

    July 9, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  11. Colleen

    Sean: are you kidding me? It has nothing to do with the affair and everything to do with hypocrisy. Read what this guy has said about others and then say it's okay just a personal issue.

    July 9, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  12. John Q

    The reason it matters that he's a Republican is because as a party they campaign on the moral high ground. And they started one of the biggest congressional witch hunts in US history over Bill Clinton's affair. George Bush's 2000 campaign was based solely on "bringing dignity back to the white house", he really didn't have anything else to run on.

    If (as a party) all you have is your claim to values, when you don't have those you don't have anything at all.

    July 9, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  13. Susan (Michigan)

    How sweet. Both parties married, and his parents felt sorry for her? What about their daughter-in-law, the cheated on wife, and his own kids? Can there be any more idiocy coming?

    July 9, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  14. mando

    If a politician is going to cheat on his/her wife, then I believe that it is a personal matter. The only reason that I'm bothered is because it always seems to be Republicans that are acting "immoral." And they are the ones trumping the horn about morals and what not. So much for being conservative and godly. Anyway, whenever this happens to a Democrat or any non-Republican, we have idiots like Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh crying up a storm asking for said person's head. What's up with the double standard? Reminds me of a time when Mr. Rush got caught abusing pain killers. Prior to that he had pretty much said (and I'm paraphrasing) that all drug addicts should be thrown in jail, basically shown no mercy. However when he was found out, the rules changed. SO MUCH HYPOCRISY, IT MAKES ME SICK.

    July 9, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  15. JHL

    A gift emanates from a disinterested spirit of generosity.

    So it's $12K to each Hamptonian from each Ma and Pa Ensign. Nice. They must be so proud of what they raised.

    The lawyer's comment about "a pattern of generosity by the Ensign family to the Hamptons and others" leaves one wondering. One can only dare hope that there haven't been other "gifts"/pay-offs to other "Hamptons."

    Any chance John Boy will have the decency, at long last, to finally resign. Imagine the toll on his wife.

    July 9, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  16. Steve in Denver

    What a different world these dirt bag republicans live in. If I had an affair on my wife, the last people in the world I would ask to help would be my parents. I don't know if I'd be more ashamed to tell my wife or my father. Shameless doesn't even begin to describe these people.

    July 9, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  17. William

    What's the big deal?? This was an affair between consenting adults & isn't anyone's business, certainly not yours or mine, w the exception of the parties involved & their immediate families. Let them work it out w some dignity & in private. There were NO Government or Taxpayer's funds involved, so Who Cares if this guy, a senator "Paid to Play"???
    I'm so tired of the media, public & hypocrites playing "Morals police"!!

    Poll after poll have shown that, although it may be hurtful to the people cheated on, the vast majority of both American men & women have cheated on their spouses at one time or another.

    Why can't the powerful /rich/famous have a private life just like the rest of us??

    We look & act soooo immature, sexually uptight & two faced to the Europeans & the rest of the world, it's embarrassing!!

    July 9, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  18. jfs Memhis, Tn

    This is called a cover- up folks. This is a sneaky and crooked way to cover up ones infidelity. Ensign should be ashamed of himself. Any political party should be offended by these actions by a high ranking member. The voters of Nevada should be hurt and embarrased. Ensign needs to put his cheap ego(which got him in trouble to begin with) aside and be honorable with a resignation. Doesn't make a difference which party is involved it is a matter of trust and decency.

    July 9, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  19. smtaber

    Sean, the issue is not whether politician's personal lives ought to be part of the national dialogue, I think almost everyone would agree that infidelities and sexual preference ought not to play a role in politics. However, when the politician in question has made an issue of the moral failings of others, he (or she) is rightly called to answer for his (or her) moral failings. Such is the case of Sen. Ensign and Gov. Sanford (and former Gov. Spitzer, for that matter).

    As an aside, have there been any female politician who have been caught in infidelities or other "moral" related scandals?

    July 9, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  20. Mike

    I see a lot of Libs on here saying that the problem is the hypocrisy, not the infidelity. This is the thing that disgusts me about the direction the Dems are being taken by the Libs. As long as you don't criticize others who cheat or profess to have family values it's OK to sleep around?!?!?! The fact is that a Man or woman who will cheat on their spouse is a liar. Liars lie....that is what they do. We need people of character leading this country, regardless of party affiliation. So yes....it does matter if you are an adulterer....there is a connection....and we should be able to expect better of our politicians.

    VOTE LIBERTARIAN!!!!!! (Have you ever been lied to by one?)

    July 9, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  21. Chris

    Brad writes:
    "No he does not. If he did then he would not have had an affair to begin with!!"
    Sounds like a non-sequitur to me, unless there's an explicit senate ethics rule about your private sex life.

    July 9, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  22. citizenjane

    Scott L from another post, same subject "One thing you won't get Reagan or any of the Bush's on is marital affairs. Only a matter of time before Obama falls if he has not already."

    I'll cede to you your frustration on the Ensign affair. However, why drag Obama in to the fray? You become childish and petulant, neither of which are good qualities in getting your message out.

    July 9, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  23. John Cocktostan

    I find it hard to believe that this affair, as well as the ensuing cover-up, did not detract from the performance of Senator Ensign. Is failure to fulfill your elected duty to the best of your ability not a violation?

    July 9, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  24. lynn in NM

    Whatever!! Did they miss a payment? Sounds like bribe money to me. Oops. He's a senator. That's politics as usual.

    July 9, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  25. John Q

    Once again, Democrats don't campaign on family values, therefore they are not hypocrites. They are not hypocrites for pointing out hypocrisy.

    Hypocrisy literally means, religiously preaching one thing and doing another.

    July 9, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
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