Nov. 23, 2009 -- Doug Hampton, the former co-chief of staff to Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., speaks out in his first television network interview, about the affair between his former boss and his wife, Cynthia "Cindy" Hampton, also a former Ensign employee.
Speaking exclusively to "Nightline" co-anchor Cynthia McFadden, Hampton provides astonishing new details about the affair and its many repercussions, including the end of a close 20-year friendship between the two families and the loss of the Hamptons' jobs.
Hampton told McFadden that the money Ensign's parents paid him in the aftermath of the affair was severance -- not a gift -- as Ensign had claimed, which could constitute a violation of campaign finance laws.
Watch Cynthia McFadden's interview with Doug Hampton on ABC News' "Nightline" Nov. 23, at 11:35 p.m. ET.
When asked by McFadden if it was clear that $96,000 was, in fact, severance and not a gift, Hampton said it was "crystal clear."
"Crystal clear," Hampton said. "I took notes. I've shared those notes. They're well documented. They were clearly what he deemed as severance."
The Ensign family has said that the $96,000 was a gift and not severance, and that they complied with all the applicable laws. A family spokesman -- denying a payoff -- called it part of a "pattern of generosity" made "out of concern for the well-being of longtime family friends during a difficult time."
"Pattern of generosity?" Hampton told McFadden. "Oh, hey, listen, 'We realize our son's having an affair with your wife, maybe some money will help.' It's ridiculous!"
In the interview, Hampton also renews damning allegations, including claims that Ensign knowingly arranged for Hampton to lobby his Senate office within a year of leaving his post, which could violate federal ethics laws.
Ensign has said previously that he is confident all laws and ethics rules were followed, and that he will cooperate with any official inquiries.