Doug Hampton in Las Vegas
The Ensign plot becomes the gift that keeps on giving. However, much of it seems to have missed the news channels. There has been noticeable “non-coverage” of this story. Usually cable news latches onto these kinds of stories and beats them to death like an old drum. Not so in this case and there appears to be a reason why.
According to the Washington Post 6/20/98 Senator Ensign decided to go public with his affair for several reasons. Supposedly, the husband of the woman he was involved with, Douglas Hampton, has sought an undisclosed about of money from Ensign. On first glance, it appears to be blackmail or extortion. Reading further, one gets the idea it is for damages.
Mr. Hampton apparently was so distraught over this affair and the supposed continued interest and attention paid to his wife, he wrote a letter to Megyn Kelly of Fox News. (see letter) Apparently nothing was done with the letter but Ensign didn’t know that the letter would not be acted on and broadcast all over the United States (like was done with indiscretions by Clinton, Craig, Foley, et al).
The Hampton and Ensign friendships go back many years. Both couples were actively involved in a college religious group which continued for many years. They live in the same upscale neighborhood in Las Vegas.
According to the Las Vegas Sun:
The affair with Cynthia Hampton occurred while she, her husband and their adult son were all on the senator’s payroll. She was Ensign’s onetime campaign treasurer and the former treasurer of the senator’s Battle Born Political Action Committee.
Unnamed sources cited in various media reports initially raised the specter of extortion as the reason for Ensign’s news conference, but Metro Police and the FBI said they were not investigating. Ensign’s office on Thursday declined to say today whether the Hamptons sought any money to keep quiet.
Cynthia Hampton’s salary doubled as she took over as treasurer for Ensign’s leadership campaign account until she left in May 2008. Doug Hampton’s final month’s salary as a top aide at the senator’s office was nearly $20,000 — more than his normal pay at the $160,000-a-year-job, although the extra sum could have been for accrued sick or vacation time, or as a stipend.
The couple’s son, Brandon, was also on the payroll with a $1,000-a-month summer job at the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2008, which Ensign chaired at the time.
The New York Times reported today that after Ensign reconciled with his wife and dismissed Cynthia Hampton, he paid her a severance out of his own pocket.
Ensign’s office has declined to comment on the Hamptons’ salaries, or any severance.
Doug Hampton took a job with Allegiant Air, a Las Vegas company whose CEO is a major Ensign supporter.
There are some interesting missing key elements here.
Why has Fox News sat on this story?
How did Ensign learn of the letter to Megyn Kelly?
How does this fit in with the fair and balanced motto of Fox News?
How have other philanderers been dealt with by this station?
The Washington Post carries the following explanation for Fox News sitting on this story:
After the Nevada Republican acknowledged the affair Tuesday, a Fox producer failed to tell his bosses that he had the letter from Douglas Hampton, and Fox never reported it. The Las Vegas Sun disclosed the letter’s contents Friday.
“Sometimes a ball gets by,” said Tom Lowell, senior producer of Fox’s “American Newsroom.” “This one got by.” It was, he said, “my mistake.”
Hampton had written to the program’s co-anchor, Megyn Kelly, saying he was not giving the information to any other news outlet. Lowell said his primary concern was protecting Kelly, who “has any number of people who have stalked her.”
Fox says it never received the letter that Douglas Hampton says he mailed to Kelly, but it was later attached to an e-mail that the network received at 12:21 p.m. Monday.
After the news conference, Lowell passed Hampton’s contact information to his Washington bureau but did not send the letter or show it to senior Fox executives, who have expressed unhappiness at not being informed. “The letter was an allegation of an affair,” Lowell said. “I don’t know that it would have shined a light on anything new.”
Lowell said Hampton called the Fox booking desk before sending the e-mail Monday. “He seemed evasive,” Lowell said. “His entire focus seemed to be talking to Megyn.” Kelly asked whether she should call Hampton, Lowell recalled, but he said the network should do more research first.
“As the day went on, it fell off my radar,” Lowell said. When he heard the next day that Ensign had scheduled a news conference, “at that point I realized there might be credibility to these claims. . . . Should I have paid a little more attention to this e-mail? Sure.”
There seem to be a lot of reasons why this story was never followed up on. One that hasn’t been explored is political motive. Additionally, Senator Ensign is the fair-haired child of the Religious Right. Was Ensign being protected?
Reading Mr. Hampton’s letters gives one the feeling that this is a desperate man willing to do anything to normalize his family. He doesn’t seem like a blackmailer. Ensign acts like he is being bilked and is the wronged party here. Hampton just sounds like a frantic, sad man who wants his wife and life back. He sounds betrayed. What goes on in Vegas, or DC for that matter, obviously isn’t staying in either place. I expect when this all shakes down, Ensign won’t be staying in DC either.