Coburn Denies Urging Payments to Ensign’s Mistress
Via The Washington Post, the office of Sen. Tom Coburn yesterday denied that the Oklahoma Republican told housemate Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) to pay millions of dollars to his former mistress to keep the affair quiet — a charge leveled by the husband of the mistress in a recent interview with the Las Vegas Sun.
“Dr. Coburn did everything he could to encourage Senator Ensign to end his affair and to persuade Senator Ensign to repair the damage he had caused to his own marriage and the Hamptons’ marriage,” Coburn spokesman John Hart said in a statement. “Had Senator Ensign followed Dr. Coburn’s advice, this episode would have ended, and been made public, long ago.”
Hart told The Post that the husband’s claim that Coburn urged Ensign to pay restitution “is false.”
Thus likely endeth the Coburn chapter of this saga. The larger story here revolves around the separate charge that Ensign paid his mistress $25,000 in severance money as she was quitting her job in his campaign office. That payment didn’t show up on any campaign forms filed with the Federal Election Commission — a campaign finance violation that also happens to be a felony.
The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed an official complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee on that very point. Most such complaints are dismissed (lawmakers, after all, don’t really like policing themselves). This case, though, will be more difficult to dismiss as a triviality.