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The sex and hush-money scandal that brought down former Nev. Senator John Ensign is spreading across the Republican party like a permanent stain, stripping bare the party’s hypocrisy on family values.
Caught in the ever-widening scandal is former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a presidential candidate and tea party favorite who touts family values but tried to bury the Ensign scandal by alerting the Nevada Senator that the husband of his mistress was going public.
Santorum is just one of many Republicans named in a blunt and damaging Senate Ethics Committee report that reveals the GOP tried to cover up the Ensign scandal and put family-values on the back burner when it came to protecting its own.
According to the Senate Ethics Committee report, Doug Hampton, Ensign’s former chief of staff and the husband of the Senator’s mistress — Cynthia Hampton — sent a letter to Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly of Fox News on June 11, 2009 and revealed the affair.
Hampton also emails Santorum and asked for his help. Santorum instead forwarded the email to Ensign and blew the whistle.
The ethics committee reported:
Sen. Ensign immediately called an emergency staff meeting in the late evening … that lasted until approximately 3:00 a.m. on June 16. During that staff meeting, Sen. Ensign disclosed the affair, and also disclosed that he had made a severance payment to the Hamptons.
Coburn, the report said, tried to “broker” a deal between Ensign and the Hamptons, including an offer of “hush money.”
Coe tried to put an end to the affair, even calling Ensign at the hotel where he and Hampton were screwing around.
“I know exactly where you are. I know exactly what you are doing,” the report quoted Coe as telling Ensign. “Put your pants on and go home.”
Ensign reportedly told Coe: “I can’t. I love her.”
The Senate report and other sources say knowledge of Ensign’s affair was widespread among Senate Republicans and most chose to ignore it while pushing a “family values” agenda on America.
The scathing Senate Ethics Committee report brings back memories of how Republicans in the Senate tried to conceal the many incidents of sexual harassment by Sen. Bob Packwood of Oregon. Packwood sexually harassed at least 29 female staff members and campaign workers before resigning under the threat of expulsion in 1995.
But an investigation revealed other Republican Senators, including Senate leaders, knew of the charges against Packwood for years and looked the other way.