Programming note: (I'll be on the Thom Hartmann show at 10 am PST today right after Sen. Bernie Sanders)
Murray Waas broke a story yesterday about the John Ensign scandal in Reuters which Nicole wrote about here. I've been pushing for the media to force Sen. Tom Coburn to explain his actions in the matter, since he was in the middle of the whole thing as some sort of a go-0between.
The Senate Ethics committee report portrayed Ensign as intermediary in negotiating a potential seven figure payment from Ensign to his former campaign treasurer, Cindy Hampton, who he had the affair with, and her husband, Doug Hampton, who was Ensign’s closest friend and administrative assistant. The Senate Ethics committee quoted several people who gave sworn testimony in the case. Coburn said today that they were lying.
Regarding the Senate Ethics Committee report’s conclusions, Coburn said: “That’s a totally inaccurate characterization of what happened. What the story you hear is not an accurate reflection of what happened.” Ensign made the comments during an interview for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” which will air Sunday.
Coburn told C-SPAN that he never negotiated on Ensign’s behalf, but instead simply passed information along from the Hamptons and their attorney and Ensign. He also said that he was proud of what he had done and would do “exactly” the same thing all over again:
“We put two families back together with multiple children — both marriages are stable right now,” Coburn said. “I’m proud of what I did and the way I did it. There’s nothing unethical about what I did.”
In fact, the Hamptons have said they are divorcing, and Cyndy Hampton recently filed for bankruptcy.
It is unclear why Coburn broke his long silence at this point in time and provided C-SPAN with his most extensive remarks on the entire matter since disclosure of the affair. One likely reason is that instead of the story fading, Coburn’s role might face renewed further press scrutiny if and when the Justice Department reopens its probe of Ensign.
Coburn has previously said that he was a witness about his role before the Senate Ethics Committee, but has never commented as to whether he was asked for information by the Justice Department.
How exactly did he put two families back together again? Does he believe divorce and bankruptcy is "mending the fences?' Will the media finally force Coburn to answer publicly for his involvement in this scandal?