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Ensign aide says husband of senator's mistress demanded cash

LAS VEGAS — Nevada Sen. John Ensign's admission of an extramarital affair has turned into something of a saga, with his aides on Friday accusing the husband of his former mistress of trying to weasel money from the once-rising GOP star.

Tory Mazzola, an Ensign spokesman, said in an e-mail that the husband, Doug Hampton, had recently through an attorney "made exorbitant demands for cash and other financial benefits."

"Doug Hampton's outrageous demand was referred to Sen. Ensign's legal counsel, who is handling the matter going forward," Mazzola said.

Daniel Albregts, attorney for Doug and Cynthia Hampton, declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Hampton had unloaded his woes to Fox News in a distraught letter, in which he said Ensign had "ruined our lives and careers and left my family in shambles," and that he yearned for "justice, help and restitution."

In essence, the former coworkers and golfing buddies are engaged in the kind of finger-pointing typical of a soured relationship — only the stakes are far higher.

On Tuesday, the day after Fox received the letter, Ensign abruptly admitted to a months-long affair with an aide, Cynthia Hampton. On Wednesday, he resigned as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, a top Senate leadership position, after critics branded him a hypocrite for chastising others for their indiscretions — including then-President Bill Clinton, whom he called on to resign — and then indulging in his own.

In his letter, printed Friday by the Las Vegas Sun, Hampton described the Ensigns as "lifelong friends." Their homes are in the same tony section of town; their children attended the same schools. Ensign eventually hired both Hamptons: Doug as his administrative assistant, Cynthia for his campaign and his political committee.

The extramarital relationship began in December 2007, both sides have said. In February 2008, Hampton's letter says, he confronted Ensign at the senator's Washington home in front of a group that included Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

The same month, Cynthia Hampton's salary doubled, federal records show, though Ensign's camp has said she took on additional duties.

"Senator Ensign's conduct and relentless pursuit of my wife led to our dismissal in April of 2008," Hampton's letter says. "I would like to say he stopped his heinous conduct and pursuit upon our leaving but ... his actions did not subside until August of 2008."

In the months after the Hamptons left Ensign's office, Doug Hampton landed jobs with two companies closely tied to the senator: first a consulting firm and then Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air. Ensign made calls on Hampton's behalf, the Associated Press reported.

The Hamptons' 19-year-old son, Brandon, also worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which Ensign chaired, from March 2008 to August 2008.

Still, Hampton's letter says, "we have lost significant income, suffered indescribable pain and emotional suffering."

"Our families were close," Ensign said Tuesday. "That closeness put me into situations which led to my inappropriate behavior. We caused deep pain to both families and for that I am sorry."

Ensign aide says husband of senator's mistress demanded cash 06/19/09 [Last modified: Friday, June 19, 2009 11:20pm]
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