From the WashingtonPost.com. Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, a close ally of former senator John Ensign (R-Nev.), on Thursday defended his actions related to the scandal that prompted Ensign to resign his seat, calling himself “proud” of the way he handled the situation.
Ensign abruptly resigned earlier this month following the release of a Senate Ethics Committee report alleging that the Nevada Republican broke federal laws by trying to hide an affair with Cynthia Hampton, Ensign’s former treasurer and the wife of Ensign’s close personal friend and former aide, Doug Hampton. Ensign’s parents gave $96,000 to the Hampton family following the affair, a payment that the Ensigns have repeatedly characterized as a gift, but which the committee’s report alleges was a severance payment that violated federal laws.
Coburn’s name was mentioned repeatedly in the committee’s 75-page report, which described the Oklahoma Republican and former Ensign roommate as an intermediary between Ensign and Doug Hampton as the two allegedly negotiated the terms of compensation in exchange for Hampton keeping quiet about the affair.
In a C-SPAN “Newsmakers” interview with The Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery and the Associated Press’s Andy Taylor, Coburn disputed the report’s characterization of him as an intermediary between Ensign and Hampton.
“That’s a totally inaccurate characterization of what happened,” Coburn said in the interview, which is set to air Sunday. “I got a phone call one day from Hampton saying, ‘Would you communicate a message to John?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know. I’ll call John and ask him if he wants me to.’ I called John Ensign, and I said, ‘Do you want me to?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ And so, the story you hear is not an accurate reflection of what happened.”
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