It looks like when Tom Coburn denied today that he urged his friend John Ensign to pay restitution to the family of the woman he had an affair with, the Oklahoma senator wasn’t speaking just to Roll Call (sub. req.). Rather, in a sign of the potential trouble the story could represent for Coburn, he appears to have given an impromptu press conference, in what’s likely to be a failed effort to nip it in the bud.
Politico reports that, along with his denial, Coburn had some choice words for Doug Hampton.
Said the Oklahoman:
John Ensign hasn’t put me in a tough position at all. The person that’s deceiving now is Doug. And you all need to go do the investigation now on that side of it and quit asking us and ask what’s the motivation here.
Coburn also attacked the media for focusing on the story:
You’ve got two families that are back together and you guys are going to help tear them apart. What do you think their kids are thinking about what you’re writing right now? You’re helping tear apart two families that are back together - you need to quit.
Meanwhile, the good-government group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) has called on the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into Hampton’s allegation that Ensign paid Cindy Hampton a severance package of over $25,000 when she left his political committee during the affair. That would be an in-kind contribution to the committee — a felony violation of campaign-finance law if Ensign was not reimbursed. CREW had previously called for Senate Ethics committee and FEC probes into the affair.