Ex-campaign staffer confirms affair with Ensign

WASHINGTON — A former campaign aide to Sen. John Ensign confirmed her involvement today in an extramarital affair with the conservative Republican, lamented his decision to “air this very personal matter” and said she eventually would tell her side of the story.

An attorney for Cindy Hampton and her husband, Doug, issued a statement on their behalf as Ensign phoned in his resignation as a member of the Senate GOP leadership. The senator’s aides refused to return phone calls seeking additional details about a dalliance that pushed the 51-year-old Nevada lawmaker’s political career to the brink of disaster.

A Review-Journal review of federal records showed Cindy Hampton, who worked for political committees controlled by Ensign, received a promotion and pay raises around the time of their relationship. Her husband was an employee in Ensign’s Senate office.

Ensign told a news briefing on Tuesday he had an extramarital affair with a woman on his campaign payroll, and it lasted several months, ending last August.

In Las Vegas on Wednesday, lawyer Daniel Albregts issued a statement that said, “Doug and Cindy Hampton can confirm that they are the individuals referenced by Senator Ensign during his press conference.”

“It is unfortunate the senator chose to air this very personal matter, especially after the Hamptons did everything possible to keep this matter private,” the lawyer said. “It is equally unfortunate that he did so without concern for the effect such an announcement would have on the Hampton family. In time the Hamptons will be ready and willing to tell their side of the story.”

The lawyer declined to answer questions.

However, aides close to Ensign offered another version of events to the Stephens Washington Bureau and the Review-Journal Wednesday night.

According to Ensign’s camp, Doug Hampton had approached a television news network about the affair, prompting Ensign to go public. This could not immediately be confirmed.

As treasurer of Ensign’s primary campaign fund, Cindy Hampton was paid $500 monthly during 2007. The payments doubled to $1,000 monthly beginning in January 2008.

At the same time, she was promoted to treasurer of another Ensign fund, the Battle Born Political Action Committee, in January 2008. Her monthly salary there doubled as well, from $1,385 to $2,770.

According to a time-line provided by Ensign’s office this week, the relationship lasted from December 2007 to August 2008.

Both Cindy Hampton and her husband left Ensign’s employ in May 2008, according to records.

Brandon Hampton, the Hamptons’ 19-year-old son, was paid $5,400 from March to August 2008 by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate campaign arm Ensign was chairman of at the time.

According to Federal Election Committee records, the payments began March 13 and ended Aug. 15 and were listed as “research policy consulting.”

Clark County records show that Hampton lives with his parents in their Summerlin home.

At about 5:30 p.m., Doug Hampton pulled into the garage of his Summerlin home.

He did not respond to initial comments as the door closed behind his vehicle, but answered the front door shortly afterward.

“We’re not willing to make a statement at this time,” Hampton said, providing a card with his lawyer’s name and phone number. “We will be later, but right now we’d appreciate it if you referred questions to our attorney.”

Hampton’s tone was polite and civil, his attire business casual.

He did not address questions regarding his or his wife’s current relationship with Ensign.

“No comment,” he said.

Contact Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760.