Senate report: Santorum emailed Ensign that affair could be made public

It was former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) who could have tipped off then-Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) that a former aide was about to go public with Ensign's extramarital affair, according to a Senate Ethics Committee report.

In June of 2009, according to the report, former Ensign aide Doug Hampton emailed Santorum a letter he had penned to Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly disclosing his wife's affair with Ensign.

Santorum then forwarded that email to Ensign's personal email account, which led to a late-night meeting on June 15 where Ensign admitted the affair to his Senate staff. The next day, Ensign publicly disclosed the affair. 

The report says that: "On June 15, 2009, Mr. Hampton forwarded a copy of the letter in an email to former Senator Rick Santorum, and asked Senator Santorum for help with the matter. Senator Santorum forwarded Mr. Hampton s email and the letter to Senator Ensign at his Gmail address that evening at approximately 10:20 p.m. Senator Ensign immediately called an emergency staff meeting in the late evening of June 15, 2009 that lasted until approximately 3:00 a.m. on June 16, 2009. During that staff meeting, Senator Ensign disclosed the affair, and also disclosed that he had made a severance payment to the Hamptons."

Earlier this year, Ensign decided against running for reelection in 2012, then abruptly resigned his seat last month.

The Senate report does not suggest why Hampton reached out to Santorum, who is a likely presidential candidate next year. Santorum isn't implicated in any wrongdoing in the Senate report, but is likely to face questions about his role.   

A spokesman for Santorum did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.   

In its report, the Senate Ethics Committee found "credible evidence" that Ensign broke the law when trying to cover up his affair with Cynthia Hampton. The committee voted unanimously to send its findings to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Department of Justice because the committee had found "reason to believe Sen. Ensign violated laws within their jurisdiction."

-- Josiah Ryan contributed to this report.

-- This post was updated at 6:00 p.m.

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