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January 31, 2015

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Report: Officials silent on Ensign’s father’s casino plan

WASHINGTON -- A casino proposal from Republican Sen. John Ensign’s father got passed over by officials in Kansas who had previously said they would investigate the financial fallout from the senator’s affair if the project were to advance, the Wichita Eagle is reporting today.

Kansas Lottery officials, who had been reviewing the Prairie Sky Casino project among several others vying for licensing, gave no comment on the selection, the paper reported.

State gaming officials told the Sun last month that the $96,000 that Ensign’s parents paid to the family of the former staffer with whom he was having an affair would be reviewed as part of the gaming license application process, if the proposal advanced.

“The winning group would go through a full background investigation in order to get the certification of the commission,” said Mike Deines, a spokesman for the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, told the Sun at the time.

The senator’s attorney has said the money paid to Cynthia Hampton and her family was a gift as she and her husband, who also worked for the senator, left his employment. But an ethics group in Washington has called for an investigation.

The Wichita paper reports that the Prairie Sky proposal came from a partnership that included two former Mandalay Resort Group executives, including the senator’s father, Michael Ensign, and Topeka-based developer Equity Ventures.

The paper said the remaining applicants are Lakes Entertainment of Minnetonka, Minn.; and Foxwoods Development Co. of St. Louis. Both are expected to advance this week to the state gaming commission, which is expected to choose one applicant for licensing.

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