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Rachel Maddow: National Republican Senatorial Committee Knew About Ensign's Affair Back In 2008

Rachel reports on the lastest information on the John Ensign affair from the Las Vegas Sun: Emails between Ensign NRSC lieutenants, Hamptons show affa

Rachel reports on the lastest information on the John Ensign affair from the Las Vegas Sun: Emails between Ensign NRSC lieutenants, Hamptons show affair was known inside organization more than a year ago. Those emails can be read here and here.

Now, who is responsible for the Republican Party‘s fiasco in the Senate in the 2008 election? Who was in charge of the Republican Party‘s efforts to hold on to its seats in the Senate, efforts that failed so epically?

Hey, it was Sen. John Ensign of Nevada. He was in charge of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for 2007 and 2008. That‘s the campaign arm of the Republican Party responsible for the Senate.

While he was supposedly getting busy then overseeing the run-up to his party‘s 2008 shellacking in the Senate, you may recall he was also getting busy with one of his staffers, putting her son on the NRSC payroll, finding jobs for her husband, and asking his own parents to give financial gifts, lots of them, to his mistress‘s family. That‘s a lot to do while you‘re trying to get folks elected to the U.S. Senate. I wonder if he‘s a good multi-tasker.

Well, tonight there is new evidence that Sen. Ensign was not the only one at the National Republican Senatorial Committee who might have been distracted by his extramarital affair while preparing for that ill-fated election.

“The Las Vegas Sun” has obtained E-mails from the political director and the finance director of the NRSC. The E-mails are from their NRSC E-mail accounts and they are written to Sen. Ensign‘s mistress and to her husband. And, yes, they are E-mails that refer obliquely but fairly obviously to the affair and its fallout.

These are E-mails that were sent while the National Republican Senatorial Committee was also employing Ensign‘s mistress‘s son. Back in March, 2008, the NRSC started paying the teenaged son of Doug and Cynthia Hampton. They were paying him as a policy analyst.

The month after that, Sen. Ensign‘s parents gave the Hamptons $96,000 in gifts in April. And the elder Hamptons then left Sen. Ensign‘s employ. The month after that, Doug Hampton, the husband of the couple, started working for November, Inc. - that‘s a consulting firm run by the political director of the NRSC. It‘s a man named Mike Slanker.

Mr. Slanker, telling the Associated Press this year that he had no knowledge of the affair between Ensign and Mrs. Hampton when he hired Mr. Hampton, the implication being he found out when the rest of the world did during Sen. Ensign‘s June 16th, 2009 public confession.

But in July of 2008, nearly a year before then, Mike Slanker and his wife, who is also the finance director of the NRSC, were E-mailing with Doug and Cynthia Hampton about the affair.

And that means, when you put it all together, that at least three people in the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Ensign himself, the chair of the committee, plus the NRSC‘s political director, plus their finance director, all knew what was going on while they had Ensign‘s mistress‘s son on the NRSC payroll.

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