I was raised not to revel in the downfall of others, but in the case of John Ensign I just can’t help myself. Ensign faces possible criminal charges in the wake of the scathing report which was released today by the Senate. His case has now been referred to the Justice Department and Federal Election Committee.
Why celebrate the downfall of another Christian conservative? Well, first of all, Ensign is the epitome of sleaze; second, the details of his sleazy behavior might finally call the mainstream press’s attention to the machination of the Family; and third, as an added bonus, right-wing Christian conservative Senator Tom Coburn’s head might be served up as well: there is evidence that he was intimately involved in covering up Nevada Senator John Ensign’s “affair” and was involved in negotiating payoffs to the family of the woman involved. Ensign is said to have violated civil and criminal laws, made false or misleading statements, and ordered shredded documents among other illegal actions. He He He
But first, back to John Ensign. In 1999 he admitted to “having an affair” with a former campaign aide, Cynthia Hampton, and then helping her husband, also a top aide, establish a brief lobbying career. As the ethics panel was wrapping up its case in late April, insisting he did nothing wrong, Ensign announced his retirement, effective May 3, the day before his sworn deposition was to begin, according to the ethics committee’s final report.
Now that the committee’s final report has been released, we’ve learned that this so-called “affair was anything but consensual: Ensign was not only “persistent and relentless in pursuing Ms. Hampton,” the wife of his best friend, but he also ‘” just [wouldn’t] stop,’ and ‘kept calling and calling,’ and ‘would never take no for an answer,’” Ms Hampton told the committee. Evidence shows he also blackmailed her into starting and continuing having sex by threatening to fire her, fire her husband and stop paying for their children’s education–at the time both her and her husband’s income came from the Ensign office and he had the power to fire them both. Ms Hampton told the committee she feared losing her job if she did not continue the so-called affair.
Twice the Senator agreed to stop pursing Ms. Hampton; he did not do so. In fact, evidence shows he started giving Ms Hampton large sums of money as “gifts.” The report also include evidence that Ensign continued to pursue Ms Hampton and asked her to marry him several times. After this, the former senator is alleged to have tried to coerce some of his political aides into hiring Mr Hampton as a lobbyist. According to the report, one ‘prominent Nevada constituent’ declined to hire Mr Hampton, so Ensign told his chief of staff to ‘jack him up to high heaven’ and tell him he was ‘cut off’.
There are also allegations that, as well as paying both of the Hampton’s salaries, Ensign helped them with their mortgage, and even paid full tuition fees for the Hampton children. Ensign also gave Mr Hampton a $20,000 unsecured loan, some of which he paid back. But when the “affair” was discovered he forgave the loan. He even brought his parents into the situation by having them Quite Christian of him, wouldn’t you say?
Furthermore, the Committee’s report states:
Although concealment is part of the anatomy of an affair, the concealment conduct in this case by Senator Ensign exceeded the normal acts of discretion and created a web of deceit that entangled and compromised numerous people, including a loyal chief of staff, was an abuse of the Senator’s power, and raised serious issues of violations within the Committee’s jurisdiction
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif and chairwoman of the Ethics Committee, said in announcing the panel’s findings on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon:
The committee believes that every senator should read this report very carefully because it is a cautionary tale, because it says our actions have consequences for our families, for our staff…. We must ensure that every action that we take is above the law. And it my personal view it shows something else. When you are in a position of trust and power, don’t abuse it, don’t misuse it because people can get hurt–very, very hurt.
“It’s a sad chapter for the Senate but a sadder chapter for the lives it destroyed,” she added. Well said Senator Boxer, but I imagine over a few beers we’d be cheering Ensign’s demise.
More on the Family in another post.