More details have emerged about the actions of Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) in the aftermath of his 2008 affair with a top aide’s wife — already the subject of a heated federal probe.
The senator tried to help a Nevada energy company at the same time that he was urging the company to hire the aide, Doug Hampton, reports the New York Times. That suggests Ensign may have been trying to curry favor with the company in order to get it to agree to hire Hampton. Ensign was desperate to find a job for Hampton at the time, after his affair with Hampton’s wife led to the end of Hampton’s tenure in Ensign’s office.
At a meeting in May 2008, reports the Times, Ensign asked top executives of the company, P2SA, and a related company, BioDiesel, to hire Hampton. The executives, for their part, wanted Ensign’s help in forging a partnership with a larger company, Kinder Morgan, for a project they were working on. P2SA is one of several Nevada companies subpoenaed recently in connection with the federal investigation.
After the meeting, two senior Ensign aides — John Lopez, then his chief of staff, and Brooke Allmon, then his director of Nevada legislative affairs — called Kinder Morgan, urging the company to work with BioDiesel.
Separately, Allmon urged BioDiesel to hire Hampton: “If you want John Ensign to work with you, you have got to hire Doug Hampton,” she is said to have told one company exec.
In the end, Hampton was never hired by P2SA, and Kinder Morgan chose not to work with P2SA or BioDiesel.
Last month, Ensign’s office denied to the Times that it had offered any assistance to P2SA. Now, it’s saying: “Senator Ensign acted appropriately by contacting the company.” It explained the earlier denial by saying it had meant only that Ensign had not intervened in Washington on P2SA’s behalf.
The investigation is focused on whether Ensign violated lobbying rules in trying to get a job for Hampton. It also appears to be looking at whether he tied contributions to the NRSC, which he then chaired, to promises of legislative favors.