10.04.2009

Suddenly, Not A Single Rethug Will Stand Up For Their Adulterer Colleague Sen. John Ensign

The sky is falling on Sen. John Ensign now that the details of the cover-up of his affair with a staffer and the subsequent paying off of her and her husband came to light.

My how far we've come from the standing ovation he got received after news of the affair broke and he begged for forgiveness from his colleagues in the Senate Republican caucus.

But now, not one, not one, single, Republican will go on record to defend Ensign.

Not Sen. Tom holier-than-thou Coburn, who threw him under the bus and who admitted to being a willingly participant in the cover up of the affair by becoming the middleman for paying off the mistress & her husband (via the NY Times):

And Mr. Ensign allowed Senator Tom Coburn, a friend and fellow conservative Christian, to serve as an intermediary with the Hamptons in May in discussing a large financial settlement, to help them rebuild their lives.

“John got trapped doing something really stupid and then made a lot of other mistakes afterward,” Mr. Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, said in an interview. “Judgment gets impaired by arrogance, and that’s what’s going on here.”

[...]

...On Valentine’s Day, they confronted Mr. Ensign during lunch at the house. Mr. Hampton, yelling at times, was there, too. Mr. Coburn, an ordained deacon, took the lead in questioning Mr. Ensign, who acknowledged that Mr. Hampton’s accusation was true.

“I said, ‘No. 1, you’re having an affair, and you need to stop,’ ” Mr. Coburn recounted. The senator said he also advised Mr. Ensign to make the affair public and to work to reconcile the two families.

Mr. Coburn warned Mr. Ensign that if the affair did not end, he would “go to Mitch” — referring to Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, Mr. Hampton said.

[snip]

That began a series of intense, though ultimately futile conversations intended to reach a financial settlement.

Mr. Hampton went back to Mr. Coburn, who offered to talk to Mr. Ensign about restitution for the Hamptons to help them relocate from Nevada. Mr. Coburn said he raised the issue with Mr. Ensign, who said, “I’ll listen.”

Mr. Albregts gave Mr. Coburn a figure: just under $8.5 million, to cover purchase of the Hamptons’ home, lost wages and “pain and suffering.”

Mr. Coburn dismissed that as “ridiculous.” Mr. Hampton came back with a lower number — about $2 million, which Mr. Coburn passed on. Mr. Ensign flatly rejected the proposal.

“That’s a joke; forget it,” Mr. Coburn recalled Mr. Ensign saying.

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That last section clearly shows Sen. Coburn working on Ensign's behalf to pay off the family, and was the impetus for this segment on Friday's Night's Rachel Maddow Show:
Senator Ensign's presidential date night

Oct. 2: Rachel Maddow points out the detail in the New York Times expose piece on Sen. John Ensign, R-NV, that the senator took his mistress to a formal White House event where the two were photographed with the president and first lady.

(You can read more on Coburn's involvement in "Tom Coburn confirms he was go-between" and in "Tom Coburn knew of John Ensign's affair")

Not poor, old, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
(via WaPo):

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) repeatedly refused to answer questions Friday about a New York Times report that embattled Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) negotiated a cover-up of his extramarital affair with a campaign staffer, with his friend Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) serving as a financial intermediary.

At a Friday morning news conference, McConnell faced a barrage of questions from reporters about the Times's 4,000-word front-page investigation suggesting that Ensign may have improperly used his office to aid his mistress and her husband, who had been one of Ensign's top Washington staffers. Asked if Ensign could still be effective, McConnell said, "Sen. Ensign continues to serve," and said he does not have "any observations to make about the Ensign matter."

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And, not his curmudgeonly friend, Sen. John Kyl (via Think Progress):

This morning on CNN’s State of the Union, Senate ethics chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced “there’s a preliminary investigation going on, and we will look at all aspects of this case.” When asked whether Ensign can continue to “serve effectively,” Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) — a member of the Senate Republican leadership — refused to lend his support to Ensign. We should simply “wait and see what happens,” Kyl said.


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Melanie Sloan, director of CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics) states the obvious (in the WaPo piece): "Mr. Ensign looks like toast to me and he should resign"

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a non-profit watchdog organization, said her group would send a new ethics complaint to the Senate Ethics Committee in light of the new revelations and called on Ensign to resign.

"Mr. Ensign looks like toast to me and he should resign," Sloan said in an interview. "He clearly abused his office to try and not just cover up the affair, but he used his position to keep Doug Hampton happy so that Doug Hampton wouldn't go public."

Sloan's group had already filed a complaint against Ensign with the Senate ethics panel over earlier disclosed dealings between Ensign and the Hamptons, but said she now plans to renew the call, and will ask the ethics panel to investigate Coburn's role as well.

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No need to worry though, the FBI seems primed to look into it all, thanks to CREW's original complaint from way back in June and the Times piece from last week, and what they do will supersede whatever the Senate Ethics Panels is doing or whatever comes of their own investigation (via the NY Times):
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee are expected to conduct preliminary inquiries into whether Senator John Ensign violated federal law or ethics rules as part of an effort to conceal an affair with the wife of an aide, current and former officials said Friday.

[snip]

The Senate Select Committee on Ethics had already started a preliminary review in response to a complaint it received shortly after the affair became public in June.

The complaint that initiated this inquiry focused on whether Mr. Ensign improperly used campaign money in April 2008 to make a $96,000 severance payment to Mr. Hampton and his wife, Cynthia Hampton, who once was treasurer of Mr. Ensign’s campaign. At that time, Mr. Hampton and his wife, who was still having an affair with the senator, were forced out of their jobs.

So far, no evidence has surfaced that the money for this payment came from the government or from campaign money. But the new accusations, detailed in an article that appeared Friday in The New York Times, appear to be a more serious threat to Mr. Hampton and Mr. Ensign, ethics lawyers said.

[snip]

Officials at the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation declined comment on the matter. But law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the F.B.I. was likely to open a preliminary investigation into the new accusations to determine whether a full investigation was warranted.

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Shit. Is. Hitting. The. Fan. For. Sen. John. Ensign. (and if we're really lucky, possibly Sen. Tom Coburn as well).

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