Lover's husband alleges Ensign, Santorum cover-up

The scandal surrounding Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) has ensnared another senator as Doug Hampton, the husband of the woman with whom Ensign had the affair, alleges a widespread cover-up and said he is considering legal action.

Hampton initially reached out to Fox News urging the network to report the affair, but Ensign admitted to it before news outlets made it public. In an interview that aired Thursday, Hampton accused ex-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a Fox News contributor, of leaking word of his letter to Ensign.

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A phone call to Santorum's assistant at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and an e-mail to Santorum's personal account were not immediately answered Friday morning.

Hampton would not rule out legal action against Ensign for his actions and treatment of two employees. The former aide also said he had sought advice from others about how to approach a lawsuit.

"I think I'm considering everything," Hampton said. "We are going backwards each month, financially."

Hampton, Ensign's former chief of staff, accused the Nevada Republican of forcing him out of his job while setting Hampton up with other opportunities, a scheme Hampton said amounted to a cover-up.

"He made you feel incredibly guilty somehow, way, shape or form if you weren't a part of making sure this went down the way he wanted you to," Hampton said on "Face to Face," the Las Vegas public affairs show hosted by political expert Jon Ralston.

In an interview that aired over two days, Hampton's version of the affair differed significantly from Ensign's.

Hampton said the senator and Cindy Hampton were involved in an affair from December to February; the couple stayed in Ensign's employ until April, when they were asked to leave. Hampton said Ensign continued to pursue Mrs. Hampton until August 2008.

In admitting to the affair last month, Ensign himself said it lasted from late 2007 to August 2008.

Hampton also implicated Ensign's top political aide in keeping the affair quiet. Mike Slanker, who headed the National Republican Senatorial Committee when Ensign was chairman during the 2008 cycle, knew of the affair and even confronted Ensign at the NRSC's offices, Hampton said.

After leaving Ensign's office, Hampton went to work at November Inc., the Nevada-based consulting company Slanker runs. Hampton left shortly thereafter to work for Allegiant Airlines.

"Mike was in a terrible spot like I was in," Hampton told Ralston. Hampton said Slanker was roped into the situation after Ensign's wife, Darlene, asked for his help.

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Slanker has denied knowledge of the affair to several media outlets. Phone calls and e-mails to November Inc. and Slanker himself have gone unanswered.

Hampton also told Ralston he did not know how much money Ensign had given Cindy Hampton in severance after the pair were dismissed. Late Thursday, Ensign's attorney released a statement saying money actually went to four members of the Ensign family, in the form of two payments of $12,000 to each.

That money, totaling $96,000, came from Ensign's parents; his adoptive father is a retired casino executive.

In the interview, Hampton said he had been unfairly forced from his job and reiterated his call for Ensign to step aside. Now, with his job at Allegiant Air threatened and his family's finances becoming a consideration, Hampton told Ralston he hopes Ensign comes under investigation.

"I hope that Ethics does a tremendous investigation, a thorough investigation," Hampton said. "John needs to go address some things and he needs to take some responsibility and he needs to make some restitution and do some things right. We were employees.

"A powerful man changed our employment light forever," Hampton added.

Ensign's office did not offer comment on the second installment of the interview.