“You acknowledged that Mr. Hampton was a personal friend whom you counseled and supported after learning of Senator Ensign's affair with his wife, Cindy Hampton. You were made aware of plans to help the Hamptons transition into a new life, and you recommended that Senator Ensign assist Mr. Hampton with recommendations to find another job, as you would `normally give someone who had been your chief of staff,“’ the committee said in the letter.
The panel also said Coburn was “intimately involved in trying to help the Ensigns and Hamptons reach a financial settlement that would stave off any public disclosure of, by then, the past affair.” This knowledge, the committee said, further bolstered the argument that the Oklahoma lawmaker was aware that the meeting with Hampton had occurred during the cooling off period, and was in violation of the federal criminal law.
In a statement, Coburn's office challenged the Ethics committee criticism.
“Admonishing Dr. Coburn for failing to know Hampton was only seven weeks shy of ending his year-long cooling off period is gratuitous, particularly when Dr. Coburn cooperated fully with the Ethics committee and went out of his way to acknowledge that he could have taken additional steps to learn that Hampton was under the ban — even though, again, the burden of compliance was on Hampton,” said John Hart, a spokesman for Coburn. “It is unfortunate the committee has impugned Dr. Coburn for their failure to provide workable guidance for a law that was passed nearly five years ago.”
In its report last year, the panel found that Ensign broke federal law, made false statements to the Federal Election Commission and obstructed a committee's investigation into his conduct. It forwarded the matter to the Justice Department for possible prosecution.
The former Republican lawmaker “created a web of deceit that entangled and compromised numerous people,” the committee said. The panel said that it had assembled enough evidence to warrant possible expulsion had Ensign not resigned.