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October 25, 2014

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jon ralston:

The Ensign report: Vindication for Doug Hampton?

Doug Hampton, the cuckolded husband whose wife was pursued by ex-Sen. John Ensign, is under indictment by the Justice Department.

And Ensign, accused by the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee in a devastating report of obstructing justice, lying to the Federal Election Commission, violating campaign finance laws and conspiring to violate cooling-off laws, has been told by the Justice Department to have a nice life.

The department, now pictured next to the word “oxymoron” in the illustrated dictionary, should be embarrassed today, even more so than it was after botching the Ted Stevens prosecution. That a relentlessly thorough special counsel, Carol Elder Bruce, was able to produce a riveting and revolting report documenting Ensign’s depredations, including what is alleged to be a massive cover-up with email shenanigans and document destruction and a quid pro quo system whereby businesses hired Hampton or they were cut off by the senator’s office, makes a mockery of the Justice Department.

The ethics panel sent referral letters to both the department and the FEC, and Chairwoman Barbara Boxer made it clear on the floor Thursday Ensign was facing possible expulsion.

Justice Department? I don’t think so.

Hampton indicted and Ensign not. I don’t think so.

The travesty that began on June 16, 2009, when Ensign had the indecency to go public with his affair while lacking the decency to resign, has reached a seminal moment, with the chance of the ousted senator facing charges greatly enhanced. The document released by the ethics panel Thursday does many things, including a reaffirmation of how creepy this entire episode has been. But most of all, it validates many, many statements Hampton made, first on “Face to Face” less than a month after Ensign’s disclosure and later to national media outlets.

Nothing substantive Hampton has asserted has ever been refuted and now there is independent evidence to back up his allegations.

Justice Department? I don’t think so.

Hampton indicted and Ensign not. I don’t think so.

There’s much more, too. Some tantalizing, albeit sickening excerpts:

• The role played by Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, Ensign’s gynecologist who once claimed doctor-patient confidentiality to block the ethics probers, is outlined as a go-between. Although he scoffed at Hampton’s initial $8 million request to start over, the report says Coburn advocated that the “Hamptons should receive an amount of money above and beyond that to start over ... have some living money while they were looking for new employment, and possibly some seed money to send the children off to college.” Now that’s a nice delivery, doctor.

• The night before he disclosed the affair, Ensign was tipped off by presidential pretender Rick Santorum after Hampton contacted the ex-Pennsylvania senator to tell him he was going to Fox News. Ensign gathered his staff to disclose the affair with Hampton’s wife, a bridesmaid at his wedding, at a meeting that lasted until 3 a.m.: “Several staff members who attended recalled the use of the term severance or the concept of severance.” That is, Ensign lied to the FEC and many others about his parents’ goodwill and serendipitous “gift.”

• The report says Ensign conspired, as Hampton has claimed, to help him violate the one-year lobbying ban: “Sen. Ensign facilitated Mr. Hampton’s unlawful post-employment lobbying by pressuring contributors and constituents ... to hire Mr. Hampton even though he had no public policy experience or value as a lobbyist other than access to the senator and his office. For example, when a prominent Nevada constituent (Sig Rogich) declined to hire Mr. Hampton, Sen. Ensign instructed John Lopez, his chief of staff, to jack him up to high heaven and inform the constituent that he was cut off from Sen. Ensign and could not contact him any longer.” Quid pro quo, Sen. Ensign?

Justice Department? I don’t think so.

Hampton indicted and Ensign not. I don’t think so.

There is so much more, too, some of it cringe-inducing — spiritual adviser Tim Coe of the infamous Jesus frat on C Street telling Ensign: “I know exactly where you are. I know exactly what you are doing. Put your pants on and go home.”

He’s home now, forced out with the ethics panel at his doorstep. But at what incalculable cost to his family, the Hamptons, the Senate, the Republican Party?

If the Justice Department has any sense of justice left, it will immediately announce a deal with Hampton that allows him to avoid prison time and start his life over. And if it doesn’t want to become a national laughingstock, the Justice Department will shuck its Stevens hangover and take a sober look at a recent private citizen who appears to have the moral compass of a serial felon.

Download the full special counsel report at tinyurl.com/6a22bkj.

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  1. Coburn, Ensign's gynecologist? I knew Ensign was a wimp, but I never realized he was that wimpy.

    There are a number of class action suits involving bag fees. The bag fees and other junk charges kept airlines in big profits.

    Hampton was lobbying on bag fees. Also, Allegiant's "junk jets" produced pollution, and Hampton lobbied on that.

    NV Power wanted to get in on the Southern Nevada water racket.

    Then the Entravision, Bio-diesel and solar lobbying for the connected ones.

    We need public financing of campaigns to keep the money out of politics, but good luck on that one given the Citizen's United ruling.

  2. Soap Opera Writers have NOTHIN' on Nevada's Native Son...

    Jon's right...
    WHAT A FREAKIN' JOKE, our "Justice" Department!!!

    If John Ensign's resignation from the U.S. Senate is the final chapter of this god-awful political FREAK show, Americans need to SERIOUSLY CONSIDER what is taking place in their country under the auspices of "JUSTICE".

    John Ensign, (as did Gym Gibbons, IMO) has committed MULTIPLE FELONIES under U.S. law...
    So far, the sum-total of his comeuppance is a CUSHY RETIREMENT ON YOUR DIME...
    Whaddya think about that, Nevadans?

  3. mred...
    Coburn was attending to John's cervix.
    He may have needed a Hysterectomy...
    It's all GRATIS as part of his Government-sponsored Health Plan.

  4. All I see lately is pundits talking. The allegations have piled up so high, there has GOT to be some credibility to all this where Ensign can easily be charged with a criminal offense.

    But nothing's happening.

    I suggest Ensign be arrested and perp walked down the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard from one end to the other. The offense? Hell, I don't care. Charge him for being stupid or make something up.

    Whatever the hell needs to happen...needs to happen...and it needs to happen quick. The Nevada voters need closure to this.

    Because the way things are going now is basically impossible.

    Not sure if people see this, but Nevada is now a laughing stock in the political world. Not only in Nevada, but all up and down and throughout the United States.

    But still the pundits talk, still people investigate, still people stand around with their thumbs up their...grass in front of the Hilton Hotel here in Las Vegas is pretty green, isn't it?

    What I really, really want to happen is that the U.S. Senate needs to change their investigative body around to something else. Because it sure seems when a Senator does something EXTREMELY wrong (as in this Ensign affair), they really appear to not have any ability (nor desire) to take action.

    Time to yank it away from the U.S. Senate and get something else. Because this ain't working.

    Scream at me for big government, this spending needs to stop, blah blah blah blah, but hell, does the State of Nevada, even America, need something like this to happen in the Senate again?

    Let's get an investigative body that has some teeth. Rather than the one that was there that just gummed it to death until Ensign quit, then were happy that he quit so they wouldn't have to go any further.

    They seem to only want to take care of their own...not do what is right to seek justice and make sure their Senators are behaving and acting according to what the people voted them into power to do and how to act. If you ask me, they lost that ability. They lost all credibility in the eyes of the American people. Yank it away from the Senate. Give those powers to someone else.

    I guarantee that if the FBI were involved from the moment allegations happened, Ensign would right now be in a prison cell next to O.J. Simpson already.

  5. Sure he's one of the primary victims of Johnboy, but everyone knows You Can't Lobby For One Year After Leaving a Staff Position. He was actively lobbying for one of Johnny's friends, (the no union airline) 3 days later. There will be jail time for him and hopefully for the Ex Veterinarian, Ex Senator, and soon ex married. I'm sure his wifey has had enough now.

  6. Mr. Hampton can contemplate his vindication from his jail cell. He is likely headed to jail for violating some very basic laws on lobbying, unless he can cut a deal to testify against Ensign (provided Ensign broke some laws)

  7. Hampton was paid off to shut up, then squeeled like a pig. Now, that money will go to lawyers to keep him out of jail. He wanted Ensign out of office. He got it but at what price. Hampton cannot be trusted and he's lost everything. Did his revenge to get Ensign serve him? Ensign is a spoiled brat rich boy who should have never left his parents. I think his ego got the better of him and his arragence destroyed him. C-Street bolstered his ego to the point of him believing he was invensible. Instead of doing his job of helping gays & blacks here in Nevada; this group meddled in killing gays & blacks overseas in bigotry using ignorant Africans. I personnally believe there was a Higher Power working here; Do you?

  8. And to top it off, Ensign will be getting retirement pay to the tune of $27,000 a year from the Senate on our dime of course!