Sen. John Ensign (R-NV): A Sexual Predator’s Playbook on How to Abuse Power with Impunity

Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)

 Put your pants on and go home.
Tim Coe, the Fellowship Foundation (The Family)
In a previous life, former Sen. John Eric Ensign (R-NV) must have been the snake in the Garden of Eden.  He’s a fundamentalist “Christian” who represented Sin City and believes what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.  He is most definitely the poster boy for arrogant narcissists who abuse their power and women.  In fact, I think the Senate’s Ethics Committee’s report gives a thorough accounting of how bastards like Sen. Ensign, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, and David Letterman abuse their power and women with impunity.
Cynthia Barnes was a bridesmaid in his wedding to Darlene Sciaretta on November 7, 1987.   Ms. Barnes and Ms. Sciaretta became friends at Canyon High School in Anaheim, CA.  Ms. Barnes wed Doug Hampton on January 4, 1988.  Mr. Hampton was the senator’s best friend, golfing buddy, and co-chief of staff.  Mrs. Hampton worked on his campaigns and was treasurer of his PAC.  They all lived in the same gated community, worshipped and vacationed together, and their kids went to private “Christian” school together.  The couples have been close for twenty years.

John and Darlene Ensign & Cynthia and Doug Hampton

Falling in Lust at Pres. G.W. Bush’s Christmas Party
Mrs. Hampton was the Senator’s date to President George W. Bush’s Christmas party in 2006.  He claims he fell in lust that night, but it appears he had been grooming her for a long time.  He persuaded the Hamptons to relocate to Nevada in 2004 and to work for him.  He picked up the tab for a lifestyle they couldn’t afford including $40,000 to refinance their home, $39,000 for school tuition, a $20,000 unsecured loan, and numerous vacations.
The mainstream press characterizes their relationship as an “affair.”  This implies consent, and the evidence is abundantly clear that Mrs. Hampton did not consent.  She became physically ill due to the prolonged stress of fending off the senator’s predatory advances and demands for sex.  The legal term is “sexual harassment” which is euphemism for an employer abusing his power to relentlessly rape an employee.  Essentially, it reduces a felony to an unpleasant civil matter that requires employees to jump through endless hoops to get to trial.  

John Ensign & Cynthia and Doug Hampton

[He] just [wouldn’t] stop. . .kept calling and calling. . .would never take no for an answer.

– Cynthia Hampton

Predator Pounces on Prey 
The predatory senator’s opportunity to pounce on his vulnerable prey (Mrs. Hampton) arose after the Hampton home was burglarized, and the family was invited to stay with the Ensigns.  Mrs. Hampton was terrified of the senator’s enormous power ~ if she continued to refuse to prostitute herself ~ she and her husband would loose their jobs and their home and their children would have to drop out of school.
Her fears were prophetic.  Ultimately, she and her husband were fired.  They lost their home to foreclosure.  The kids had to drop out of school despite a $20,000 loan from her family.  Mrs. Hampton filed for bankruptcy.  Mr. Hampton has been indicted.  The couple is getting a divorce.  Meanwhile, the senator resigned, but he’ll get an estimated $27,000 annual pension for his ten years of service in Congress.
The Senate Ethics report concluded their was “substantial credible evidence” that Sen. Ensign should have fired himself for violating his own policy against sexual harassment and fraternization.
Ensign & Hampton
 The only people who’re suffering in this story are the ones who blew the whistle.
There’s an incredible unfairness here.
Melanie Sloan, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

Cuckolded Husband Went Ballistic 

When Mr. Hampton discovered he’d been betrayed and cuckolded by his best “friend and brother in Christ,” he went ballistic and confronted the senator in an airport parking lot a couple of days before Christmas, 2007.  The battle between these “alpha males” continued for two years.  Both men lost Mrs. Hampton’s love and respect.
On Christmas Eve, the senator expressed remorse and promised to end his pursuit, but he did not stop his predatory behavior.
In January, he broke his promise and gave Mrs. Hampton $3,000 to fund their liaisons.  At the National Prayer Breakfast, he told Mrs. Hampton that he wanted to marry her.
On Valentine’s Day, 2008, there was a second confrontation at Sen. Ensign’s C Street residence, a 12 bedroom row house which he shared with members of the Fellowship, a group of Conservative Christian lawmakers.  It has been dubbed a “Jesus frat” and “bordello” by critics of sexual scandals involving “Christian” men who lived, scored, and/or prayed there:  Sen. Ensign, former Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC), and former Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS).
The leader of the confrontation was Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).  The group forced Sen. Ensign to end his pursuit of Mrs. Hampton via letter: 

Ensign's Apology to Mrs. Hampton

Shortly after sending the letter, Sen. Ensign called Mrs. Hampton and told her to ignore it.  Two days later, Mr. Hampton spotted their cars outside a hotel and called Tim Coe, the senator’s spiritual advisor.  Mr. Coe called the senator and exploded:

I know exactly where you are.  I know exactly what you are doing.  Put your pants on and go home.

Sen. Ensign whined:

I can’t, I love her [Mrs. Hampton].

On February 17, 2008, the Hamptons confronted Sen. Ensign at his home.  The senator told Mr. Hampton that he wanted to marry his wife and then fired him from his $144,000/year job.  After confessing his love for Mrs. Hampton to Mrs. Ensign, the couple separated for a few months.  Sen. Ensign lived with his parents, who demanded he stop the pursuit of Mrs. Hampton.

In March, Sen. Coburn staged another intervention at the C Street house.

Mrs. Hampton was fired on April 9, 2008 from her $50,000/year part-time job.  The pursuit continued sporadically until August, 2008 when Sen. Ensign finally honored her wishes to stop the harassment.

Darlene & John Ensign

“Gift” from the Ensign Family Trust
Michael and Sharon Ensign, the senator’s parents, issued a check from the Ensign Family Trust to the Hampton family for $96,000 on April 7, 2008.  They claim it was a “gift,” but others call it severance pay or hush money. 
In 2009, Mr. Hampton’s attorneys, Marty Sherman, Mr. Coe, and Sen. Coburn allegedly attempted to broker a deal of $2.8 million in restitution/transitional finances for the Hamptons.  Sen. Ensign, in true David Letterman fashion, characterized the negotiations as blackmail.  Mr. Hampton escalated by writing to Megyn Kelly at Fox News on June 11, 2009.  Rather than adhere to his First Amendment obligations as a Fox reporter, on June 15, 2009, former senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) leaked the story to Sen. Ensign, who engaged in damage control.  Fox News claimed they didn’t think the scandal was “credible.”
Sen. Ensign bullied friends, colleagues, and contributors into hiring Mr. Hampton as a lobbyist despite the fact that he had no expertise.  This left Mr. Hampton vulnerable to charges of violating federal conflict of interest laws.  In a bizarre twist of “soap opera” drama, the whistleblower was indicted, and  CREW’s Melanie Sloan blasted the Department of Justice: 
It is an outrage that the Justice Department would choose to only prosecute Doug Hampton and not his well documented co-conspirator Senator John Ensign.  The DOJ has wiped away any doubt that you really can get away with almost anything as long as you happen to be a high-ranking government official.  The message from the DOJ is clear:  if you work for the government, and you know your boss is engaged in wrongdoing, keep your mouth shut.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

. . .had Sen. Ensign not resigned…
the evidence of (his) wrongdoing would have been substantial enough
to warrant the consideration of expulsion,
the harshest penalty available to the committee and the Senate.
– Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Substantial Credible Evidence 
On June 24, 2009, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed an ethics complaint alleging sexual harassment, employment discrimination, post-employment ban violations, and issues related to the $96,000 check to the Hamptons.
The Senate Ethics Committee investigated Sen. Ensign for 22 months.  He resigned from the Senate on May 3, 2011 to avoid testifying the next day in a probe that would likely have led to his expulsion ~ the first senator to be expelled since 1862.  Carol Elder Bruce, special counsel, authored the steamy and sordid report which has been gleefully reviewed by reporters and bloggers.  The Ethics Committee unanimously voted to ask the Justice Department and the FEC to prosecute Sen. Ensign.  The DOJ has been widely criticized for failing to do so.  For example, Jon Ralston in the Las Vegas Sun opined: 

Doug Hampton, the cuckolded husband whose wife was pursued by ex-Sen. John Ensign, is under indictment by the Justice Department.

And Ensign, accused by the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee in a devastating report of obstructing justice, lying to the Federal Election Commission, violating campaign finance laws and conspiring to violate cooling-off laws, has been told by the Justice Department to have a nice life.

. . .relentlessly thorough special counsel, Carol Elder Bruce. . .riveting and revolting report documenting Ensign’s depredations. . .massive cover-up. . .

The role played by Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, [Sen.] Ensign’s gynecologist who once claimed doctor-patient confidentiality to block the ethics probers. . .a go-between. . .advocated that the “Hamptons should receive. . .some living money. . .seed money. . .”  Now that’s a nice delivery, doctor. . .

The Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Las Vegas Sun, and The New York Times have summary pages of their reports on the Ensign scandal.  Details of the scandal begin on page 7 of Ms. Bruce’s report, and her findings of substantial credible evidence begin on page 51.
Hamptons, Slankers & Ensigns

The Family doesn’t really care about political corruption. . .it’s about preserving power.

– Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family
Preserving C Street Entitlement
On February 19, 2008, Sen. Ensign seized an invitation from Mike and Lindsey Slanker to allow Mr. Hampton use their November, Inc. consulting firm as “his business card” for lobbying work.  The Slankers didn’t know the senator had been sexually harassing Mrs. Hampton until Mrs. Ensign called to enlighten them.   
Sen. Coburn outrageously claimed doctor-patient privilege to avoid testifying about his role.  Right.  He’s an OB/GYN.  He also tried to duck out using his role as deacon to establish privilege reserved for ordained ministers, rabbis, etc.  The Family, as a religious organization, has tax-exempt status while engaging in intense lobbying activities. 
Mr. Hampton opined to Nightline:
This is about preserving John, preserving the Republican party, this is about preserving C Street. These men care about themselves and their own political careers, period.
In 1998, Rep. Ensign (R-NV 1st) was one of the first to call for Pres. Bill Clinton’s impeachment for his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
In many respects, this sordid tale gives women a detailed playbook on how arrogant narcissists abuse their power and women with impunity.  Adam coined the strategy by blaming Eve, and one of my own former lovers perfected it.  He defended men who engaged in sexual harassment.  This morning, I had an epiphany ~ one of those “duh!” moments.  When I was still in law school, he needed my help to win an important case before the U.S. Supreme Court. . .the first sentence of their unanimous decision was exactly what I had told him during our pillow talk.  Why has it taken me so long to realize I can beat him at his own game?  I’ve thought for a long time that women need their own winning playbook. 
I’d like to give a special shout-out and message of profound gratitude to Linda Lowen for her journalistic integrity.  She is a blogger for the New York Times who recently wrote about Ms. Magazine’s cover story (Summer, 2011 issue), “Sex, Lies & Hush Money:  Did a right-wing U.S. senator help cover up the affair of another right-wing senator?  So why haven’t they both been prosecuted?” by Katherine Spillar.

2 responses to “Sen. John Ensign (R-NV): A Sexual Predator’s Playbook on How to Abuse Power with Impunity

  1. Someday, we will hear or read the term.”pulled and Ensign” or “made a slanker”. Some of us will know it is an unspeakable, criminal act.

  2. Oh, Helen, you are spot on. I’m thinking “dropped anchor” ~ ensign ~ Navy ~ girl in every port. If Danielle Steele wrote this pot boiler, folks would say she was lacking in credibility. I can’t believe his wife took him back. How can you ever trust a guy like this again?

    Sending hugs,
    Anne Caroline

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