After speculating about whether Sen. John Ensign’s affair included payouts to his mistress and her family, about every news outlet is reporting that Ensign’s parents, who are casino moguls, paid off Cynthia Hampton’s family to the tune of $96,000. Some reports state that these payments could be just the tip of the iceberg. And no one has yet dug deeper into the payments coming from Ensign’s congressional office — that would be taxpayer money — and his campaigns.
The biggest concern with Ensign’s parents paying off the Hamptons is that, in doing so, they relieved their son of having to make the payments himself and file them in his taxes. This revelation, had Ensign run for president, would have been severely damaging. Of course, as we’ve seen, the details of the affair and subsequent payments have come out already. (Although not in the self-reflective manner of Gov. Mark Sanford.)
Like most of the current bizarre news spectacles pouring out over the last few weeks — Sanford and Gov. Palin’s awkward resignation press conference — there will be more information coming out soon. Was there more money? And where did it come from? Hopefully, the Senate Ethics Committee starts to look at this right away. (Or maybe the IRS.)