Ensign screws aide’s wife, then screws ethics laws

Like too many elected officials, Sen. John Ensign likes to screw around. He nailed Cynthia Hampton, a campaign worker.

Hampton was also the wife of his top Washington aide: Douglas Hampton.

So Ensign tried to smooth things over by helping Hampton get a job with some of his fatcat supporters.

Hampton, with Ensign’s help, landed a good gig with a political consulting firm and the Senator who screwed his wife helped out by lining up campaign donors as clients.

Which put Hampton in violation of ethics laws that bar senior Senate aides from lobbying their old place of employment for at least a year after leaving the job.

And it puts Ensign in a position far more compromising than his bedroom antics.

Reports The New York Times:

Early last year, Senator John Ensign contacted a small circle of political and corporate supporters back home in Nevada — a casino designer, an airline executive, the head of a utility and several political consultants — seeking work for a close friend and top Washington aide, Douglas Hampton.

“He’s a competent guy, and he’s looking to come back to Nevada. Do you know of anything?” one patron recalled Mr. Ensign asking.

The job pitch left out one salient fact: the senator was having an affair with Mr. Hampton’s wife, Cynthia, a campaign aide. The tumult that the liaison was causing both families prompted Mr. Ensign, a two-term Republican, to try to contain the damage and find a landing spot for Mr. Hampton.

In the coming months, the senator arranged for Mr. Hampton to join a political consulting firm and lined up several donors as his lobbying clients, according to interviews, e-mail messages and other records. Mr. Ensign and his staff then repeatedly intervened on the companies’ behalf with federal agencies, often after urging from Mr. Hampton.

While the affair made national news in June, the role that Mr. Ensign played in assisting Mr. Hampton and helping his clients has not been previously disclosed. Several experts say those activities may have violated an ethics law that bars senior aides from lobbying the Senate for a year after leaving their posts.