Ensign May Have Busted Ethics Rules After Affair

Senator arranged lobbying work for senior aide after having affair with his wife
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2009 5:27 AM CDT
Doug Hampton, a former aide to Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., appears outside his home in Las Vegas.    (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
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(Newser) – Sen. John Ensign says his affair with an aide was a strictly personal matter but he may have trampled on ethics rules and federal criminal law during his efforts at damage control, according to the New York Times. Ensign helped his mistress' husband, Doug Hampton—another senior aide— join a consulting firm after the affair ended in 2008 and helped find him lobbying work for several firms that donated to his campaign, despite a law barring senior aides from lobbying the Senate for a year after leaving their jobs.

Hampton says he ignored the law on the senator's advice. He later decided to seek compensation from the senator and asked Ensign's friend, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, to broker a deal. Coburn told Hampton's lawyer that the $8 million he was seeking was too much, but passed on the figure of $2 million to Ensign, who rejected it and broke off negotiations. Hampton then told Fox News about the affair, forcing Ensign to go public last June.