- The Washington Times - Friday, June 19, 2009

Republican Sen. John Ensign admitted publicly to committing adultery only after the husband of the woman involved contacted the media about the affair, a spokesman for the Nevada lawmaker said.

Ensign spokesman Tory Mazzola said Thursday that the husband, Doug Hampton, went to a “major television news channel” before Tuesday — the day the senator held a press conference in Las Vegas to disclose the affair.

“We learned of this fact before the press conference,” Mr. Mazzola said in an e-mail to The Washington Times Thursday.

A source close to Mr. Ensign confirmed that Mr. Hampton’s action was what prompted the senator to go public with his affair with Cindy Hampton, a former member of his campaign staff.

Mr. Mazzola’s comments conflict with statements made Wednesday by the lawyer representing the Hamptons, who called the senator’s decision to go public with the affair “unfortunate” and that the Hamptons “did everything possible to keep this matter private.”

The lawyer, Daniel J. Albregts of Las Vegas, added that “in time, the Hamptons will be ready and willing to tell their side of the story.”

Mr. Ensign said the affair, which his office said took place from December 2007 to August 2008, was “the worst thing I have ever done in my life.”

Mrs. Hampton, of Las Vegas, had worked on several of Mr. Ensign’s election committees, while her husband was a top assistant in the senator’s office in Washington. Both left Mr. Ensign’s employment in the spring of 2008.

On Wednesday, Mr. Ensign told Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, that he was stepping down from his Senate leadership post but would remain in the chamber.

Mr. Ensign, 51, was chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, considered the fourth-ranking spot in the Senate Republican chain of command. He is married and belongs to the men’s Christian ministry Promise Keepers and has championed causes pushed by the Republicans’ conservative religious base.

The senator has risen quickly through the Senate leadership since taking office in 2001 and serves on several powerful committees, including finance, budget and homeland security. His current six-year term expires in January 2013.

Earlier this month, he traveled to Iowa, home to the nation’s first presidential precinct caucuses, to speak as part of a conservative lecture series designed to redefine the Republican Party after last year’s election defeats. The trip fueled speculation that he was mulling a presidential campaign in 2012.

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