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. 

41 Thoughts to “Ensign Plot Thickens, involves Fox News”

  1. Poor Richard

    Take a moment and check the BBC and Huffington Post sites about
    what is happening today – right now in Iran. People are being
    beaten and killed for peacefully protesting the actions of their

    Ensign, another hypocritical Senator sleaze , isn’t the main
    story today.

    I wish he was.

  2. kelly3406

    MH: Your fascination with Fox News is intriguing. While Fox News does exhibit some conservative bias, it certainly is no worse than the liberal slant of CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS. ABC is conducting a newscast from the White House on the Obama Health Plan and is not allowing Republicans to participate or purchase opposition ads. If that is not filtering the news, I do not know what is. Your fascination with Fox News says more about your political persuasion than it does about any actual bias of Fox.

  3. Moon-howler

    Poor Richard, the BBC and Huffington Post really aren’t our main sources of information. Point taken on Iran. On the other hand, I watched several finance shows today on cable news which to me, is mainstream news. I also put up a post on Iran earlier in the week. There are 7 responses. Yes, Ensign is another sleazy politician. I think there is more to that story also than just usual Washington men in power sleaze.

    I see too much downplaying. I have watched Washington affairs for too many years not to realize this one is different and so have you.

  4. Moon-howler

    Kelly, doesn’t it just gripe you that I keep calling attention to Fox News?

    This one just fell in my hands. I didn’t go seek it out. I picked up the front page of the WaPo and there it was, ripe for the picking. Same with the Las Vegas Sun. Just hopped out at me like a lizard on a hot tin roof…ooops cat.

    I have missed the ABC series. Is it any good? Sounds filtered to me.

    What does my supposed facination with Fox news say about me? I have told you what my political persuasion is. No secrets. Moderate Independent who usually votes Democrat but not always.

    It might say that I watch Fox News. Let’s put it this way, I sleep with tv on. I can tell if I am listening to Fox or CNN the first 60 seconds I am awake. I hardly think CNN is liberal slant. If Lou Dobbs is liberal I need to move. Who else do you consider liberal? Larry King?

    It’s fine to blame me for Fox New’s tangled web in this affair. I know you don’t want to admit that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. If you can try to deflect the situation into my bias go for it. I just told you I watch Fox a lot. Perhaps that is why I notice some of the eye rolling, snide remarks, and the scrambling to blame Obama after he pointed out the continual dogging they have done to him. Actually, it is the best entertainment in town.

    Sadly, for some people, they consider Fox to be their only news source. Now that’s a problem.

  5. ShelllyB

    Well let’s have a thread about Iran then. I promise I will help the number of comments reach double digits or at least eclipse the current membership of Help Save Manassas.

    Isn’t it interesting how Fox “News” can get in someone’s head and expand until it becomes a part of his/her identity? Any mention of the fact-free, opinion only bias on Fox “News” then becomes an attack on their own self, taken VERY personally, rather than a mere statement of fact. Astounding.

  6. Moon-howler

    There is a thread about Iran. I cannot hold a gun to people’s head and make them comment there. It is the 9th thread down. Not much has changed so I can see no reason to post a new thread. More like Day 6 of the same situation.

    Iran is an extremely repressive regieme. TV is the best source of information. The western press has been banned. All video is citizen video.

    I hinted at Revolution last week. It looks more and more like that just might be the case. Young people are tired of the repressive religious BS.

  7. Emma

    The Iranians have Twitter.

  8. Emma

    I’m a channel-surfer, so I watch all kinds of news programs. But there has been a very conspicuous silence on the inspector-general firing and Michelle Obama’s possible involvement, due to her AmeriCorps association on the main news outlets. There’s defintely a stink of corruption there, but you can hear a pin drop in the MSM. You’ll have to dig through to page A-19 or so in the Post to find any mention of the story. And the fact that ABC is running this infomercial about the healthcare plan, and not allowing any opposing views to pay for advertising, makes them seem even more complicit in the promotion of this administration’s interests. The best thing anyone can do is to continue to channel-surf–take what you need,leave the rest, and try to figure it all out for yourselves.

  9. ShelllyB

    Okay M-H. You da boss. Emma, I am glad to know you are not a member of the Fox “News” Taliban.

    As for Ensign, it really sickens me that he used campaign contributions and Republican Senatorial contributions to pay this family off in order to have sex with the mother. It’s month wonder this man and his family are in ruins. These are the people who should not be allowed to get married due to “Family Values.”.

    “Family Values” is a most dishonest campaign slogan. The people who fell for it and made ensign and/or Republican Senate donations are now learning their money subsidized a secret mom prostitution ring turning dad and son into pimps. Nice family valuies, Ensign.

  10. Moon-howler

    I haven’t heard about Michelle Obama being involved in the firing of Walpin or any other inspector general. That, of course, doesn’t mean it isnt happening. Could well be true. It would not be the first time a president’s wife had more than a thumb involved in affairs of state. I certainly have seen a lot about Walpin and frankly, from, what I know about it, I don’t like that he was fired.

    However, this affair is the focus today. And each and every time someone tries to deflect the subject with a yes, but look what X did to Y, I am going to bring it back. Why was this story allowed to fall through the cracks over on Fox?

    We can all bet our sweet bippies if Marc Warner or Jim Webb were in Ensign’s place, Old Fox would have been all over it.

  11. Poor Richard

    “Martin Luther King once said ‘The arc of the moral universe
    is long, but it bends towards justice’. I believe that.
    The international community believes that. And right now we are
    bearing witness to the Iranian people’s belief in that truth.”
    President Obama

    It is a gripping thing to watch non-violent citizens beaten
    and battered in the streets by those in authority – anywhere.

  12. Johnathan Abbinett

    The most disturbing question is – “Is U. S. Senator, John Ensign, (R-NV) a SEXUAL PREDATOR?

  13. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    Couple things. Let’s say Fox News sat on this story. So? The other “news” outlets have refused to report on 100s of stories negative for Obama and Democratic members of Congress, and these folks are inflicting lasting damage to our economy, and probably our national security. Ensign boinked another woman….unsavory to say the least, but like Clinton’s extra-marital activities, didn’t cause any damage to the nation. I’m still hacked off at Republicans for insisting on the Clinton impeachment. Now what most news outlets are doing is covering as hard as they can for truly unforgivable things coming out of the Obama administration. You all know that the dude who is responsible for tax policy is a friggin’ tax cheat, right?

  14. Moon-howler

    Slow, I am not so sure that the obsession with Clinton’s boinking didn’t cause damage to the nation. Having a president go through impeachment or even standing trial during his presidency is distractingboth to the president, congress, and the people.

    Ensign was one of Clinton’s worse critics. I honestly don’t care who boinks who. I care about the hypocrisy.

    I forgive tax cheating. Don’t you think most of us try to save every penny we can? There are worse crimes by far. Enough slippery things go on in every administration. I don’t like digging for them.

  15. Moon-howler

    Poor Richard, it is a rather remarkable thing to watch. I agree. I moved the thread up from the bottom of the page for you. Thanks for the implied idea.

  16. Emma

    I really could care less what people do in their bedrooms, Clinton included. But what I do care about is a willingness to lie under oath. Therein lies the problem with Clinton. Certainly JFK had his share of dalliances which never seemed to have detracted from his iconic status, as did Martin Luther King. But when a public official lies under oath, they are betraying a trust and begging the question as to what else they would be willing to lie about to protect their own interests, and to what extent they would be willing to harm the country to protect themselves.

  17. Moon-howler

    Clinton should not have been asked under oath about his sex habits. I have no problem with any president being held accountable for personal behavior prior to taking office, but wait until after he/she leaves office. That should not have gone on with any sitting president. Additionally, millions of dollars were wasted. The entire situation was politically motivated.

    I can’t fault a person for lying about what he lied about. 90% of the people in the world would lie about it. Probably 60%, if stats are to be believed, have. Emma, you are aware if you asked most people about sexual indiscretion, they aren’t totally truthful?

    Now back to the topic, as promised. this thread isn’t about Clinton. It is about people leading the charge against other people when they are guilty of the same thing. Why didn’t Fox News pick up on this one and run? Do you think if it had been about Harry Reid (having trouble imagining that one) they would have assumed it wasn’t true? I think they would have run to the bank with it.

  18. Moon-howler

    Pretty amusing that all the usual Republican types here have not yet tried to defend Ensign or Fox. I am defending poor old Doug Hampton. I think he sounds like a very sad, desperate man, who just discovered that there is no Santa Claus.

    Most of you all want to bring up some Democratic sin. Well hell, there are lots of them. FDR, LBJ, JFK, Clinton. etc etc.

    Is the best answer because Clinton lied, Ensign can betray his friend and make his sound like an extortionist because the poor cuckholded man doesn’t like his ex best friend screwing around with his wife?

    –Not a good argument.

  19. Emma

    It’s not really an argument. It’s really just a question of why anyone expects Fox to be any different than the other networks. They’re simply taking a different view and covering what suits them. Why hold Fox to a different standard than any other network?

  20. Last Best Hope

    I wish this scoundrel would resign so that the lurid details yet to be revealed pollute the tabloids rather than the front pages. He said he would hope he would have the good sense to do so were he to find himself in a position like his colleague Larry Craig. Now is his chance to prove he is a man of his word, if not to his wife, at least to his constituents.

  21. Emma

    I know you want to steer away from Clinton, MH, but the fact is that he was using the Oval Office, which is supposed to be where he does the people’s business on his paid time, to instead “do” a subordinate employee. So it wasn’t so much about his private gratification–who cares?– but that he was committing ethical violations on many levels, and then was willing to lie about it.

    And no, Clinton’s actions do not exonerate Ensign in any way.

  22. Moon-howler

    Would we really expect Clinton, or any other president for that matter, to take a state limo down to the Mayflower Hotel for a nooner?

    I refuse to defend Clinton for his indiscretions. There is no defense. On the other hand, I certainly view it differently than you do. He should not have been asked. How about if he had used one of the upstairs bedrooms at the White House? People’s house and all…would that have been any different? Of course not. What about a nooner over to Camp David?

    I see many artificial barriers here that we can throw up for any president. A president never really has private time. So if you hate the president, any president, that’s a good way to nail them.

    I think the real problem narrows down to being outraged over maritial infidelity (that’s between him and Hillary in my world) or political dislike, which is what 99.99% of the Clinton scandal was.

    Last best, I don’t particularly want Ensign to resign, I just want him called out for being a hypocrite. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

  23. Pat.Herve

    The focus is on Fox because Hampton send a letter to Megyn Kelly exposing the affair – and Fox did not look into it.

    It is amazing to me that the ones that are the most critical about others usually have the same skeletons in their closets. Newt was doing one of his aides, Foley was messing with the interns, Ensign called on Clinton to resign (but he has not resigned himself) – all the while they have there own affairs going on. What is frighting is to what extent the politician will go to keep it under wraps. The will pay them off with campaign funds give them high paying do nothing jobs, etc (look at Edwards).

    Fox can get away with being slanted, as they are a cable channel – just watch Hannity – he has a ‘Lib-er-al’ segment where he takes a topic and twists the facts.

  24. Emma

    Monica Lewinsky was a subordinate employee, so I still see there are serious ethical issues with that, not so much with where they did the deed. Talk about being involved with someone who has the ultimate power in the relationship. And the fact that politicians will stop at nothing–lie under oath, use campaign contributions, sweet jobs, as Pat mentions, is frightening, because no one really knows how far these people would be willing to go to protect themselves. They apparently can be bought, and might be willing to even sell classified information to protect themselves. Let’s say some foreign entity catches wind of an affair that we might feel is none of our business, but the public official would have many reasons to want to keep secret from his/her family. How far would he/she be willing to go to protect that secret, and how much damage could that possibly do to our country? Just a thought.

  25. kelly3406

    It is not the fact of who is “doing” what to whom, it is the dishonesty that is involved. In its most basic form, marriage is a legal contract that specifies certain behaviors. If someone is willing to violate such an agreement with his life partner, why would he would he not be willing to sell out his friends, his constituents, and his country? The inevitable attempt at cover-up leaves the person vulnerable to blackmail and extortion and makes him a security risk. Those are the reasons that such behavior is the business of the country, whether it is Clinton, Ensign, Newt or whomever.

  26. Justhowitis

    Next on your “scandal list” should be sexy Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) of Playboy fundraiser fame. The Dems and media have been sitting on her adultery for a long time. She’s doing the same thing and worse than Ensign, but I guess she gets a pass because she’s a woman and a DEM? Liberals are the hypocrites. They say that the “private lives” of politicians should be left alone. But whenever a Republican leader gets caught with his zipper down, they pile on with glee. Thoughts anyone? Google loretta sanchez scandal. See–

  27. Moon-howler

    Interestingly enough, that was the main reason given to keep gays out of the military–fear of reprisal and blackmail.

    Emma, everyone is subordinate to the President of the United States.

    I still say no one should be asking. Pre-Watergate, the sex lives of prssidents was shielded from the public, at least until they were out of office. When yo look at how long the list is, one has to assume that infidelity goes hand in hand with powerful men.

    If we buy this argument, no one should be elected to the Presidency but someone who either has been exposed, like McCain, or someone who has undergone some sort of security investigation. McCain had been a skunk and no one seemed to mind at all, even though his wife gave us this lovely picture of when they first met in an intro at the Republican Convention. She left out the part that he was married to someone else at the time. No one seemed to mind. Go figure.

  28. Emma

    No, everyone is not subordinate to the President of the United States. He’s not king, and power is shared among three separate but equally powerful branches of government. And the interns in the White House are not his personal playthings.

    It’s really about what you are willing to hide and at what cost. Willingness to be open and forthright about your life (along with a willingess to honor your contracts and commitments) would make you far less of a security risk. If you have a lot to hide, then maybe politics isn’t a good career choice for you, because eventually someone will sell you out.

  29. Moon-howler

    I wouldn’t want to put that one to the test, especially in war time. And obviously I wasn’t doing a schematics chart with balance of powers. Most people would say that president is the king pin however. (at least in this conversation) ie who holds the most power: Nancy Pelosi, John Roberts or Obama?

    Emma, you know I am not arguing in favor of elected officials having affairs. I believe in the case of Clinton, which you are honing in on and refusing to leave alone, even though it was over and done with 10 years ago, that it takes 2 to tango. Lewinsky was just as much of a preditor as he was. Actually, the person who owns the power in illicit liaisons is the person who has the least to lose.

  30. Moon-howler

    Justhowitis, but is she being a hypocrite? I know nothing about her. Tell us what she is doing to incur your wrath?

  31. Witness Too

    If women cheat it is a bigger deal. I don’t know if any of this Sanchez stuff is true, but people are much harder on women in these situations. Then of course there is partisanship. Funny thing is, when the John Edwards thing happened, I didn’t see a bunch of Democratic loyalists taking the time to compose lists of Republicans who have done bad things. People are so odd when these scandals pop up. Especially die hard Republicans. What’s wrong with admitting the man is a hypocrite?

    I don’t think he should resign though. If the voters don’t want him to be their Senator, they can let him know that at the polls. Only in America do we even consider using people’s sex lives to attack them politically. Craig and Vitter did the right thing by not resigning. Spitzer did the wrong thing by resigning. That’s my view.

  32. Rebecca

    There aren’t that many women in politics compared to men but you don’t see the sleezing around that men do. I didn’t hear anyone defend John Edwards. I think they thought he was more of a sleeze because his wife has a terminal illness and stuck by him anyway.

  33. Poor Richard

    “SENATE – noun – A body of elderly genntlemen charged with
    high duties and misdemeanors”.
    Ambrose Bierce
    The Devil’s Dictionary, 1906

  34. Gainesville Resident

    From the point of view that the Commander In Chief holds a very high level security clearance, and practically everyone in the military as well as civilian contractors need to hold a security clearance, there is a double standard. An affair if found out is indeed cause for losing a security clearance. Sure, you can’t take away the President’s clearance, but it doesn’t do much to set an example for those who do have to hold a security clearance. If that seems unfair, unless somehow the rules of security clearances get changed, that’s the way it is. The same should hold for those members of Congress who serve on intelligence committees and hold a security clearance. From that point of view, it is a fairly black and white issue – and indeed, lying, or trying to cover up something in your past, is also grounds for losing a security clearance.

  35. Emma

    Exactly. Why should citizens with clearances be held to a higher standard than the country’s leadership?

  36. Moon-howler

    Except elected officials are obviously exempt.
    You can’t pull a security clearance on an elected official at that level I do not think. I think they have to be removed from office.

    I have known plenty of people with security clearances that….well….they were fooling around. Maybe they kept their nose clean at work. Plenty = at least 10.

    Has Fox News mentioned that they had knowledge of this letter? Does anyone know?

    Am I the only one who thinks Ensign is double contemptible because he threw stones at other people?
    I hate these morality police types who give everyone else hell and then do the same thing.

  37. Gainesville Resident

    People can hold on to their security clearances if their affairs are not found out. However, once found out, it is definitely cause for a clearance to be revoked.

    While the President’s security clearance can’t be revoked, members of Congress certainly could lose their clearance, and their seat on any intelligence committee. Not all members of Congress have security clearances – only those who serve on intelligence committees and have a need to know to see into things like budgets for black projects, etc. Probably the percentage of congressman/senators who have security clerances is small.

  38. Moon-howler

    How do they lose the clearances, GR? Are there any examples of people who have lost them? people = members of congress.

  39. Gainesville Resident

    I don’t know if any members of congress have lost their clearances, but one would expect if they were found to be doing anything dishonest, their clearance would immediately be at least up for review for possible revocation. Also, everyone gets reinvestigated every 5 years, that is just normal for people holding clearances. This would include White House staff members who hold clearances as part of their jobs.

  40. Johnathan Abbinett

    Back to the main story people – U. S. Senator, John Ensign, (Republican-NV) admitted to SEXUAL HARRASSMENT – that’s a fact and he is guilty of committing a crime! Ensign also admitted that his sexual harrassment went on for several months, this raises the obvious question: “Is U. S. Senator, JOHN ENSIGN, (REPUBLICAN-NV) also guilty of the crime of STALKING and is he a SEXUAL PREDATOR?”

  41. Moon-howler

    Welcome Johnathan. Where has Ensign admitted to sexual harassement? Do you have a reliable link? Sexual harassment simplies resistance.

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