So as we told you earlier today, Senator John Ensign has now admitted that he helped Doug Hampton, the husband of the senator’s girlfriend, find employment after both Hamptons left Ensign’s office. Ensign’s office pointed out that he has done the same thing “for many other staff members.” That’s almost certainly true — it’s hardly unusual.
But a close look at the timeline of l’affaire Ensign makes a few things clear:
First, that according to Doug Hampton, he had already confronted Ensign about the affair on several occasions dating back at least three months. So it would seem that the two men were hardly on good terms any longer.
And, that it also seems likely not just that the affair continued for a month after Ensign “reconciled with his wife,” but more importantly, that it was continuing even when Ensign made those calls to try to get Doug Hampton a new job.
All this suggests that this was a far more sensitive matter than the usual situation where a supportive boss makes recommendation calls for a staffer who’s moving on.
Take a look:
• Nov 2006: Ensign is easily reelected to the U.S. Senate from Nevada.
• Nov 2006: Ensign becomes chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a key leadership post. His chief of staff, Todd Bensing, becomes the NRSC’s executive director.
• Nov 2006: To replace Benzing, Ensign promotes senior aide John Lopez. But he also hires Doug Hampton — a close friend from Promise Keepers who had been working at the utility company Nevada Power — as an “administrative assistant,” and places him in charge of managing the Washington office, a job that would usually fall to the chief of staff. The move annoys more secular staffers — including Lopez — who question Hampton’s credentials.
• 2007: Cynthia Hampton, Doug’s wife, is hired to work as treasurer for Ensign’s Senate campaign. (Ensign wouldn’t face reelection until 2012, but had already begun raising money.)
• Dec 2007: The affair between Ensign and Cynthia Hampton begins.
• Feb 2008: Cynthia Hampton also becomes treasurer of Battle Born PAC and the Ensign-affiliated Senate Majority Committee, after Christopher Ward, who had ben treasurer of both operations, is ousted amid an embezzlement scandal. Her pay doubles.
• Feb 2008: Doug Hampton confronts Ensign about the affair at Ensign’s home. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and “several other men who are close to the senator” were present, according to Doug Hampton. (A spokesman for Coburn declined to comment to TPMmucraker.)
• March 2008: The Hampton’s nineteen-year-old son, Brandon, receives his first payment from the NRSC.
• April 2008: Ensign and his wife Darlene separate.
• May 2008: Doug and Cynthia Hampton both leave Ensign’s office and return to their home in Las Vegas. (According to county records, the Hamptons purchased the five-bedroom, 4,360-square-foot property in 2004 for $1.23 million. Zillow.com, a Web site than analyzes real estate information, now prices their home in Summerlin’s Trails Village at $862,000.)
• May 2008: Doug Hampton starts working as a consultant at November Inc., a political consulting firm with close ties to Ensign.
• July 2008: John and Darlene Ensign reconcile.
• Aug 2008: The affair between Ensign and Cynthia Hampton ends.
• Aug 2008: Brandon Hampton receives his last payment from the NRSC.
• Aug 2008: Doug Hampton stops working at November Inc, according to Mike Slanker, the firm’s founder. (But the Hill would report in December 2008 that Hampton was still “counsel” to November Inc. at that time, and that he would remain so.)
• Aug 2008: Doug Hampton is hired as a vice president of government affairs for Allegiant Air, a Las Vegas airline run by a major Ensign backer.
• Some time later: Brandon Hampton is hired by Allegiant as a call center representative.
• June 11, 2009: Doug Hampton writes a letter to Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, asking for her help in exposing Ensign’s affair with Cynthia Hampton.
• June 16, 2009: Ensign publicly admits to the affair.
There are still more questions than answers here. One interesting one: How did Ensign learn that Doug Hampton planned to go to a TV news channel about the affair? We hope to have more on that later today.