Ensign family gifts to his former lover go undisclosed
The parents of Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) gave $96,000 to the family of his former lover last year, the Las Vegas Sun reported today. But the gift was not reported on the personal financial disclosure of the lover's husband, Ensign's top aide.
The disclosure comes after Ensign admitted to an extramarital affair with his campaign staffer Cynthia Hampton, the wife of his former aide Doug Hampton. According to a statement by Ensign, his parents gave $12,000 gifts to Doug, Cindy and two of their children in one check for $96,000.
"The payments were made as gifts, accepted as gifts and complied with tax rules governing gifts," the statement said.
Hampton was still on Ensign's payroll when Ensign says he gave made the payments - Hampton's employment ended May 1, 2008. Yet Hampton's termination financial disclosure did not disclose the gifts.
The Senate Ethics rules require employees to disclose any gifts made to them or their family by any source that total more than $335.
When Ensign revealed the affair, he said Hampton had demanded money and threatened to make the affair public. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has asked the Justice Department to investigate if Ensign gave Cynthia Hampton improper unreported severance pay when she left his campaign.