Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2014

Currently: 70° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Election Commission won’t punish John Ensign for cash to mistress

Image

Sam Morris

Sen. John Ensign speaks to the media about an affair he had with a former staffer Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at the Lloyd George Federal Building in Las Vegas.

Updated Friday, Nov. 19, 2010 | 3:09 p.m.

The Federal Election Commission has dismissed a complaint against Sen. John Ensign over a $96,000 payment his parents made to his former mistress and her family.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a campaign finance watchdog group, announced Friday that the commission had dismissed its complaint against Ensign, his parents, his campaign and his political action committee over the money paid to Cynthia Hampton, with whom the Nevada Republican has admitted having an affair. CREW contended it amounted to an illegal political donation to Ensign.

The FEC said in a written statement explaining its reasons that Ensign's parents considered the April 2008 payment to Hampton, her husband and their children a gift given out of concern for longtime family friends. Hampton is a former Ensign campaign aide, and her husband Doug Hampton used to be an Ensign congressional staffer. (RELATED: John Ensign signals support for repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’)

The commission said Ensign's parents, Michael and Sharon Ensign, wrote a $96,000 check, intending that $24,000 go to each member of the Hampton family: Doug and Cynthia Hampton and their two sons. It said the Ensigns wanted to give the family $100,000 but gave a lesser amount because it would fall within the maximum permitted tax-free gift limits under IRS rules.

The senator's parents told the commission the gift was part of a pattern of financial largesse that they, the senator and his wife had given to the Hamptons over several years.

The senator admitted in June 2009 that he had the extramarital affair. The affair ended in 2008.

The commission's action doesn't mean the government is finished investigating John Ensign. He has been under criminal investigation by the Justice Department's public integrity section and the Senate ethics committee. The inquiries revolve around whether Ensign helped Doug Hampton violate federal lobbying restrictions.

Ensign announced earlier this week that he is preparing to run for a third term.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 6 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. that's good. Now he can work on being re-elected.

  2. First Rangel and now Ensign............must be nice.

  3. Interesting that the republicans are celebrating Ensign's exploitation of his parents in the scheme to payoff his mistress' family.

    Ensign had to beg his parents to pay them off so that he wouldn't face charges.

    What kind of man does that?

  4. Maybe, just maybe, we might have a Senator out of this ordeal who can truly be genuine to his constituants instead of the "holier than though" mentality that has gripped some of the Reublican and Democrat parties.
    The Senator is possibly a more humble person from his experiance.
    I read today that the Senator may yet be open to the idea of repealing "Dont Ask Don't Tell". This would be the kind of LEADERSHIP that is so sorely missing in Washington. Imagine. A conservative like Senator Ensign actually studying the harm that DADT has done to our military and working towards ending this horrible policy which has cost so many patriotic Americans their military careers because they were outed as gay.
    Perhaps now, our Senator can be able to look beyond the dogma of Washington and be a Senator who will think independantly about his country and constituants instead of saying "no" to evertything just because the Republican leadership tells him to.
    Stuart & Robert Wyman-Cahall
    Las Vegas, NV 89142

  5. So now we find the FEC is bought and paid for too? Ensign isn't going to become "humble" and represent anybody but his best intrests in the future ,...he just wants to run again in hopes of continuing to feed at the public trough while getting away with anything he can. All he's thinking about right now is how he dodged this bullet. One might wanna see if Mom & Dad have written any other checks to save Johnny's bacon. If he runs, Nevada voters will simply need to boot him out.

  6. Ensign, just like Tom DeLay have the ignominious attitude that they are above the law and as members of the power elite are the "chosen ones". All members of the working class, poverty level citizens, the poor, and the aged are the enemies. The Homeland Security is actually a program to protect the privileged class from those in adversity.