Ensign apologizes again as questions loom

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) issued a statement to the local media attempting to explain himself after facing criticism for his silence surrounding a sex scandal that has been plaguing him for weeks.

Ensign came forward June 16 to admit to the nine-month affair with Cindy Hampton, who worked as a bookkeeper for the senator’s campaign and political action committees while her husband, Doug, was a top staffer in Ensign’s Senate office. The Hamptons were also longtime close friends of the Ensign family.

"I am very sorry this issue has caused a great deal of embarrassment and pain for my family, the Hamptons, and many of my supporters," Ensign said in the prepared statement, which The Las Vegas Sun posted online late Friday.

Ensign said that potential investigations by the Federal Election Commission and Senate Ethics Committee make public comment on his extramarital affair inadvisable.

“I know there are questions regarding my affair with Cindy Hampton that people want to know the answers to,” the statement says. “It was reported, however, that CREW was planning to file complaints with the Senate Ethics Committee and the Federal Election Commission, so I have been advised not to publicly comment further at this time.”

CREW, short for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan government watchdog group, has called for ethics, election commission, and federal criminal investigations of Ensign’s actions in relation to the affair with Hampton last year.

“If any inquiries are undertaken, then I am confident they will be resolved in my favor and those questions will be answered,” Ensign said.

The Hampton both stopped working for Ensign by May 2008, and Doug Hampton has alleged that they were dismissed because of the affair. Ensign has said the affair continued until August 2008.

According to Ensign’s lawyer, the senator’s parents gave the Hampton family $96,000 in April 2008 after they learned about the affair. Because Doug Hampton called the payment an employment severance, CREW said the payments should be investigated.