I’m a little curious why this is not getting more attention. We’ve known since last month that Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) admitted to an affair with a former senate staffer and claimed that the woman’s husband had tried to extort money from him to keep the affair secret. That we know about.
But now it appears that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) may have urged Ensign to pay the woman and her husband off to literally and figuratively get out of town.
As Zack Roth explains here, this is the claim made last night by Doug Hampton, the cuckolded husband. Yesterday Coburn and his representatives would not deny the claim and actually seemed to concede that he had urged Ensign to pay the Hamptons money. To the Politico, Coburn’s spokesman John Hart “categorically” denied Hampton’s claim but seemed to be pegging the denial to the dollar amount not to the general issue of advising him to pay money. (See the quotes in Zack’s post and judge for yourself whether it amounted to an admission.) In one extra piece of humor, Hampton refers to the money as ‘restitution.’
But now — just since I started writing this post — Coburn has come out with a new line entirely. Now he’s categorically denying urging Ensign to pay any money at all. And now — and here’s the kicker — Coburn is saying that he won’t answer questions about this from the Ethics Committee or anyone else because his conversations with Ensign are constitutionally protected since he was providing counseling as a physician and a Church deacon.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.