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Two days after John Ensign (R-NV) made the ridiculous and debunked claim that if you didn't count gun and auto-related deaths, the United States would be the world leader in preventable deaths -- okay, that has nothing to do with the latest news, but it was so stupid, it was worth repeating -- anyway:

Early last year, Senator John Ensign contacted a small circle of political and corporate supporters back home in Nevada — a casino designer, an airline executive, the head of a utility and several political consultants — seeking work for a close friend and top Washington aide, Douglas Hampton.

The job pitch left out one salient fact: the senator was having an affair with Mr. Hampton’s wife, Cynthia ...

In the coming months, the senator arranged for Mr. Hampton to join a political consulting firm and lined up several donors as his lobbying clients, according to interviews, e-mail messages and other records. Mr. Ensign and his staff then repeatedly intervened on the companies’ behalf with federal agencies in Washington, often after urging from Mr. Hampton.

While the affair made national news in June, the role that Mr. Ensign played in assisting Mr. Hampton and helping the clients he represented has not been previously disclosed. Several legal experts say those activities may have violated an ethics law that bans senior aides from lobbying the Senate for a year after leaving their posts.

In acknowledging the affair, Mr. Ensign cast it as personal transgression, not a professional one. But an examination of his conduct shows that in trying to clean up the mess from the illicit relationship and distance himself from the Hamptons, he entangled political supporters, staff members and Senate colleagues, some of whom say they now feel betrayed by Mr. Ensign.  [...]

Mr. Hampton said he and Mr. Ensign were aware of the lobbying restriction but chose to ignore it. He recounted how the senator helped him find clients and ticked off several steps Mr. Ensign took to assist them with their agendas in Washington, activities confirmed by federal officials and executives with the businesses.

“The only way the clients could get what John was essentially promising them — which was access — was if I still had a way to work with his office,” Mr. Hampton said. “And John knew that.”

And did I mention that Tom Coburn (SAINT-OK), was the middle-man during the time Ensign was trying to hammer out how much hush-money to pay the Hamptons? Chances are Coburn's Chief of Staff would have advised against the Senator's involvement in this sordid little affair, but he was apparently too busy finding out just how gay pornography really is.

Perhaps the revelations in this article will prompt a Senate investigation into Ensign's conduct -- and perhaps I'll win the lottery.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 01:42 PM PDT.

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