Senate Ethics Report: Sen. Coburn Up to His Eyeballs in Ensign Scandal
May 13, 2011
(ChattahBox Political News)—Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the right-wing evangelical lawmaker and former roomie of disgraced former Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) at the notorious C-Street residence, was less than truthful in his testimony to the Senate Ethics Committee. The Committee released a scathing, and shocking report yesterday filled with salacious details of Ensign’s efforts to cover up a sleazy affair with Cindy Hampton, a campaign staffer and wife of his best friend and close political aide Doug Hampton. The report of the “Preliminary Inquiry Into the Matter of Senator John E. Ensign,” found evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Ensign, including obstruction of justice, making false and misleading statements and serious violations of federal law. The report, which has been forwarded to the Department of Justice recommending a criminal investigation, shows that Coburn’s testimony minimizing his role in the cover up of Ensign’s sex scandal, is directly contradicted by other witnesses. Coburn was in fact a key player and middleman between Ensign and Doug Hampton during negotiations to pay off the Hamptons with a settlement in the millions, in which officials of the C-Street were also heavily involved. Coburn now faces his own Senate investigation for his unseemly and possibly criminal actions.
When the Senate ethics investigation began in 2009, Coburn announced he would refuse to cooperate, if asked to testify, claiming his conversations with Ensign were protected as privileged communication because he’s an ordained minister as well as a doctor.
“I was counseling him as a physician and as an ordained deacon. That is a privileged communication that I will never reveal to anybody. Not to the Ethics Committee, not to a court of law, not to anybody,” said Coburn.
Since then, the F.B.I, the Department of Justice and the Senate Ethics Committee apparently persuaded Coburn to cooperate, and he did. But the Senate report shows he has not come clean about his role in the Ensign scandal. Now the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which launched the initial investigation of Ensign, has now filed a complaint against Coburn.
The Politico reports:
“CREW has filed a complaint with the Ethics Committee against Coburn in a bid to find out whether Coburn violated Senate rules when he became involved in negotiations between Ensign and the Hamptons over a potential multi-million-dollar payment from the senator once the affair with Cindy Hampton was over.”
“Coburn has downplayed his role in those discussions, but several witnesses told the Ethics Committee under oath that Coburn was heavily engaged in those ultimately fruitless talks.”
‘“Contrary to Sen. Coburn’s previous public statements – and even his statements to the ethics committee during the investigation – the senator was centrally involved in the negotiations regarding restitution to the Hamptons,” said Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, in a statement.”
Coburn told Politico, “I’ve talked about him [Ensign] about as much as I’m going to.”
But Coburn will not be able to stay mum for long. As a sitting Senator, now under investigation, with a report detailing witness testimony given under oath contradicting his own testimony and previous public statements, he will eventually be forced to offer an explanation to his constituents.