Ex-Ensign aide discloses affair letter from senator

The husband of the woman with whom Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) had an affair asked Ensign for millions of dollars, he admitted in a television interview set to air Wednesday night.

Doug Hampton, who had been one of Ensign's top aides before leaving his office in April or May 2008, told political columnist Jon Ralston the wealthy Republican senator paid Cindy Hampton $25,000 in severance money when she left about the same time. In the interview, Hampton tells Ralston he asked Ensign for millions in restitution money.

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Hampton also disclosed a letter Ensign allegedly sent to Cindy Hampton in February 2008, purporting to cut off the affair. In what he calls "the most important letter that I've ever written," Ensign apologizes for his behavior and invokes his relationship with God.

"I used you for my own pleasure not letting thoughts of you, Doug, Brandon, Blake or Brittany come into my mind," Ensign wrote to Cindy Hampton. "I betrayed everything I believe in. I lie to myself over [and] over. I justified my actions because I blamed my wife."

"Doug has been a great friend to me over the years [and] I threw all of that away over wanting to feel good," Ensign went on. "I take 100% responsibility for my actions. Plain and simple, it was wrong; it was a sin."

Doug Hampton alleges the letter was written in the presence of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a roommate of Ensign who has steadfastly refused to comment on his colleague's affair.

John Hart, Tom Coburn's communications director, released a statement Wednesday afternoon to the Las Vegas Sun.

"Dr. Coburn did everything he could to encourage Senator Ensign to end his affair and to persuade Senator Ensign to repair the damage he had caused to his own marriage and the Hampton’s marriage," according to the statement. "Had Senator Ensign followed Dr. Coburn’s advice, this episode would have ended, and been made public, long ago."

Ensign admitted last month that he had an affair with Cindy Hampton, who had been the treasurer for both his campaign and his political action committee. In the wake of the revelation, Ensign resigned his post as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

Leaks orchestrated by Ensign allies pointed the finger at Doug Hampton, who the allies said was trying to extort money from the senator. Hampton sent a letter revealing the affair to a Fox News anchor, though a producer never forwarded that information.

Ensign's affair was largely overshadowed by subsequent revelations of an affair in which South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) traveled to Argentina to see his mistress.

But the two-part interview, set to begin airing Wednesday night on Ralston's influential "Face to Face" program, is likely to put Ensign in the spotlight once more. During the interview, Hampton said Ensign should resign from the Senate.

An Ensign spokesman did not immediately return an e-mail seeking comment.

This story was updated at 6:30 p.m.