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Nevada Senator John Ensign Admits to Affair
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February 25, 2011

Nevada Senator John Ensign had an extramarital affair with Cynthia Hampton, who was married to one of his top aides, and who worked for Ensign for Senate, and for Battle Born PAC, a conservative political action committee, of which Ensign was the honorary chairman. At the time of the affair, Cynthia Hampton's husband, Douglas Hampton, was a top administrative aide in Ensign’s Capitol Hill office, and Ensign and his wife had been close friends with the Hamptons before they were hired to work for Ensign. When the affair came to light in 2009, an Ensign spokesperson asserted that it had occurred between December 2007 and August 2008, but Doug Hampton said that it began at Christmas 2006.

In January 2010, Politico reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating possible criminal violations in connection with the affair. In May 2010, investigators for the United States Senate Select Committee on Ethics spent several days in Las Vegas interviewing witnesses who had knowledge of Ensign's dealings with the Hamptons.

It was reported in July 2010 that Senator Tom Coburn had assisted federal authorities in their investigation by turning over e-mails, seen as a sign that the official investigation is gathering steam. On November 10 2010, the Federal Election Commission dismissed a complaint against Ensign over the $96,000 payment Ensign's parents made. In December 2010, the Department of Justice dropped its investigation.

In February 2011, it was reported that the Senate ethics committee appointed a special counsel to lead the investigation and just hours later Ensign said that his re-election campaign was increasing its fund-raising efforts. According to Politico, senior Nevada Republicans and Republican Senate colleagues have privately expressed concern that Ensign could cause them to lose his Senate seat. Senator Coburn was interviewed by the Ethics Committee in early March 2011.

In March 2011, Ensign said he would not seek reelection in 2012. He said his decision not to seek reelection was not influenced by the ethics committee investigation. "If I was concerned about that, I would resign," he said.

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