Husband of Ex-Mistress Sought Cash, Ensign Says

Douglas Hampton, a former aide to Sen. John Ensign, is the husband of former campaign worker Cynthia Hampton.
Douglas Hampton, a former aide to Sen. John Ensign, is the husband of former campaign worker Cynthia Hampton. (By Isaac Brekken -- Associated Press)
By Paul Kane and Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, June 20, 2009

Three days after confessing an extramarital affair with a campaign aide, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) yesterday accused his former mistress's husband of trying to extract a financial payout from the Nevada Republican.

Ensign's office released a statement Friday charging that Douglas Hampton sought a large payment from Ensign, although the senator's office refused to say how much money Hampton was seeking and whether there had been any negotiations over a payout.

"Within the past month, Doug Hampton's legal counsel made exorbitant demands for cash and other financial benefits on behalf of his client. Doug Hampton's outrageous demand was referred to Senator Ensign's legal counsel, who is handling the matter going forward," Tory Mazzola, Ensign's spokesman, said in a statement provided to several media outlets.

The formal statement from Ensign's office followed a whisper campaign carried out by the senator's allies over the past several days about what prompted the Nevada Republican's revelation that he had an affair last year with Cynthia L. Hampton, who had served as the treasurer of his various political committees.

The Ensign and Hampton families were lifelong friends, living in the same Las Vegas-area neighborhood.

"I have no comment on anything," Daniel Albregts, the Hamptons' attorney, said in a brief interview yesterday. Albregts has said the Hamptons are weighing how to respond to the Ensign statement.

On Tuesday, Ensign announced that he had an affair with an unnamed former campaign staffer whose husband was also a top Senate staffer, while his staff provided enough background information to clearly identify the couple as the Hamptons. Both sides have said the affair began in December 2007. In April 2008, Ensign and his wife, Darlene, separated. At that time, Doug and Cynthia Hampton abruptly left Ensign's offices.

The Ensigns reconciled last July, but, according to statements from both families, the senator's affair with Cynthia Hampton continued into August.

According to the statement Ensign's office issued yesterday, Doug Hampton's lawyer approached Ensign's lawyer last month about a financial settlement. Mazzola today declined to address several issues left unclear in that statement, including when the senator rejected the financial request from Hampton. Ensign's office has also declined to say whether the senator -- hailing from a family of multimillionaires in the casino industry -- ever made payments to the Hamptons from personal funds after they stopped working for him.

According to congressional and Federal Election Commission records, the Hamptons received modest sums from Ensign's official accounts as they left his employ. Cynthia Hampton received payments covering her regular work, and Doug Hampton received an additional $6,000, which Ensign's office has said was back pay for unused vacation time.

Ensign's office, however, said the decision to publicly reveal the affair was not driven by the request for money. An aide said Ensign decided to go public after learning that Hampton had written to Fox News with the details of the affair, asking that network undertake an investigation into Ensign's affair with his wife. In the letter, Hampton suggested he wanted to file a lawsuit against the senator.

Mazzola would not say how the senator or his aides came to learn of Hampton's outreach to Fox News, only that once they were alerted to it, Ensign quickly returned home and sought to announce the affair on his own terms.

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