Questions Swirl Around Payments to Family of Ensign's Mistress

Ensign and his parents made payments to the family of his former mistress.

ByABC News
July 10, 2009, 8:37 AM

July 10, 2009— -- If you're having trouble keeping track of the Republican sex scandals these days, you're not alone.

There's the one that sounds like a seedy romance novel, complete with trips to Argentina. And there's the gritty Las Vegas scandal in which a U.S. senator now admits his parents gave cash gifts to his mistress's entire family.

Sen. John Ensign admitted last month that he slept with his best friend's wife: Cynthia "Cindy" Hampton, his campaign treasurer. Her husband, Doug, was Ensign's top aide.

"Our children referred to him as 'uncle.' We had dinner together," Doug Hampton recalled in an interview earlier this week with the Las Vegas Sun.

When Hampton told his side of the story he brought with him a handwritten breakup letter from the senator to Cindy Hampton.

"Plain and simple, it was wrong; it was sin. God never intended for us to do this," the letter said in referring to the affair.

But despite the letter's repentant tone, Doug Hampton told the reporter what happened next: "24 hours later, he's with Cindy back in Las Vegas!"

Hampton claims the senator was willing to pay big bucks in the hopes the problem would just go away.

Asked by the Las Vegas Sun if Ensign paid $25,000 severance to Cindy Hampton out of his own pocket, Doug Hampton said, "To my knowledge, that's correct," though added that he did not know how much money might have exchanged hands.

The senator now acknowledges that his parents paid the Hamptons nearly $100,000.

Ensign's mother and father paid out $12,000 each from his mother and father to Cindy Hampton, Doug Hampton and each of their two children. Because Ensign's parents doled out the payments in smaller chunks, the recipients could potentially avoid paying taxes on the money.