John Ensign paid $96k to mistress's family

Politico | July 9, 2009
By Manu Raju

Sen. John Ensign's attorney acknowledged Thursday that the Nevada Republican's parents paid nearly $100,000 to the family of his mistress around the time she and her husband left his staff in April 2008.

Paul Coggins, Ensign's attorney, said in a statement that the senator gave Doug Hampton, Cindy Hampton and their two children gifts worth $96,000 and that "each gift was limited to $12,000."

"The payments were made as gifts, accepted as gifts and complied with tax rules governing gifts," Coggins said.

Coggins said that after Ensign told his parents about his affair with Cindy Hampton who was an then a campaign aide the senator's parents "decided to make the gifts out of concern for the well-being of longtime family friends during a difficult time.

"The gifts are consistent with a pattern of generosity by the Ensign family to the Hamptons and others."

Ensign's attorney said that none of the gifts came from campaign or official funds and were not related to his official duties, saying that he complied with all ethics laws.

His disclosure comes as the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington called on the Justice Department to investigate potential criminal wrongdoing of Ensign reportedly giving Cindy Hampton more than $25,000 in a severance package. The group says that under federal law, failing to report contributions of more than $25,000 can result in five years in jail.