Did Ensign’s Mistress Fail to Report Her Own Payoff?

The Politico reports that Senator Ensign may have a campaign finance problem–because he did not report the "severance payment" he is said to have given his mistress, Cindy Hampton, when he fired her last year (h/t CREW).

There continue to be a number of outstanding questions on the scandal, including whether Ensign gave a "severance package" to Cindy Hampton, his former campaign treasurer. The affair between Ensign and Cindy Hampton lasted from December 2007 to August 2008, Ensign said. She and her husband both left Ensign’s payroll at the end of April 2008.

POLITICO and The New York Times both reported that Cindy Hampton received a severance package from the senator, but Ensign’s camp has declined to confirm whether any such payments actually took place.

If Ensign, or any other entity, did provide Cindy Hampton with a severance payment, those payments were not recorded on Ensign’s disclosure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

"If the payment was compensation for her work for the PAC, it has to be reported," said Brett Kappel, a campaign finance expert with the firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease. "It doesn’t matter when the payment was made."

But, as Citizen92 pointed out, Cindy Hampton was the one in charge of reporting that payoff. And when they got rid of her, they brought in the same woman, Lisa Lisker, brought in to clean up after the NRCC embezzlement scandal. (See also this comment from Citizen92 where he was connecting some of these dots back in February 2008.)

Anyway, that confrontation in front of Coburn, the NRCC embezzlement scandal and Ward’s retirement may be coincedental timing – or there may be more to it.

Ward was the treasurer of Ensign’s Battle Born PAC. Ward was replaced by Hampton.

Ward was the treasurer of the (Republican) Senate Majority Committee, headed by Ensign. Ward was replaced by Hampton.

And, of course, Ward was the treasuer of the NRCC (his primary embezzlement dipping well). Ward was briefly replaced by the incumbent assistant treasurer, but in June 2008 was replaced by Lisa Lisker, a partner in the DC based powerhouse firm Huckaby Davis Lisker.

What’s interesting is that after the Hamptons left DC “for medical reasons”, Ensign’s Battle Born PAC made Lisa Lisker treasurer.

Any chance that Ensign (or the Hamptons) were personally plugged into the embezzlement scandal? There sure are a lot of common players here.

In other words from the period when people like Tom Coburn and some other "peers" and "men who are close" to Ensign confronted him about his affair in February 2008 until he got rid of her, Ensign’s mistress was in charge of reporting any unusual expenditures–though it’s precisely this role that Ensign’s spokesperson attributes to her increased pay.

Tory Mazzola, Ensign’s spokesman, acknowledged Monday that Cindy Hampton’s salary, paid from Ensign’s reelection campaign and leadership fund, increased during the period that she was romantically involved with the senator, but he said the pay raise occurred because she "became responsible for direct mail and accounting" at the committees, an expansion of her previous duties.

"Her salary from Battle Born [Ensign’s PAC] also increased because of additional responsibilities due to a transition with accounting and compliance," Mazzola said.

So did Cindy Hampton not report her own payoff? 

18 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    As long as we’re asking interesting questions, did Ensign order her not to report it? Or (since I believe Ensign has to sign the report, regardless of who prepares it) did he excise it from the report prior to signing it?

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    A simple paperwork oversight. I’m sure they’re grateful to you for bringing it to their attention and it’ll be corrected in the next filing. Sorry for any inconvienence.

    A better question would be: Did she declare the severence payment on her taxes?

    Boxturtle (Remember, that’s how they got Big Al)

    • emptywheel says:

      Actually, where’s it’s likely to get embarrassing is that it probably came out of Ensign’s personal Casino fortune, so it wouldn’t have had to be reported. But then it’s a lot closer to a payoff isn’t it?

      • Citizen92 says:

        Or maybe “The Family’s” fund for contingencies? The family is a reilgious organization, so it doesn’t have to report anything to the IRS.

        • BoxTurtle says:

          Sounds to me like The Family told him “Clean this up. Now”. He has plenty of cash on his own, he wouldn’t need to go there and he wouldn’t expect a warm welcome if he did.

          Boxturtle (They’d help if he was desperate, I’m sure)

          • Citizen92 says:

            This is why I am looking for a Nexis between the NRCC’s embezzlement scandal and ‘The Family.’ What moneys keep ‘The Family’ going? Certainly not the $600/mo per Member of subsidized rent for the C Street House.

            Do Fellowship followers pay an annual dues assessment? Does the Fellowship have a particularly adept portfolio manager? Are former Fellows particularly generous on their deathbeds?

            Chris Ward was NRCC treasurer for, I think, 10 years. And all he managed to bilk was in the neighborhood of $900k? C’mon.

            Is Porter Goss a Family (Fellowship) member? I’m still pulling on the thread where his $15M Sanibel Island, FL home connects up to Phyllis Scalafly through voting fraudster “Thor” Hearne, a Swiftboat funder and the Missouri-based Pillar Foundation.

            • posaune says:

              well, 92,
              Porter Goss’s house was back-to-back with “the Family’s” house on the same block. His was on facing D Street SE. Great neighborhood, huh?

            • posaune says:

              ooops, correction to 13.

              It was Jack Abramoff’s casino-making-deal house on (132?) D Street SE that backed up to The Family house.
              Porter Goss was right across the street from Abramoff, at 131 D Street SE.

              • Citizen92 says:

                132 D, SE was the house owned by Alexander Strategy Group, who were Tom DeLay’s henchmen. ASG was directly connected to Abramoff. ASG sold that house to then Cong. Jim Ryun (KS) at a discount. Ryun was defeated in ‘06 partly because of that shady deal.

                The 100 blocks of C and D, as you have pointed out, are very important places of business and residence for much of “the nation’s business.”

                A group called “The Madison Project” (religious organization, of course) is/was run out of 119 C, SE. (Public Integrity’s Record).

                What’s interesting about Madison is that it was run by Timmy Teepel, who is presently Gov “Bobby” Jindal’s Chief of Staff in Louisiana. Teepel was also influential with Jindal when he was in the Senate. More importantly, Teepel is a major homeschooling proponent. Madison is also closely affiliated with Patrick Henry College, which is a freakshow homeschooler’s college and law school in Purcelville, VA.

                Probably not a coincedence that Jim Ryun (he of the scandal house, mentioned above)… Ryun’s sons took over running The Madison Project.

                Probably also not a coincedence that from that same address, 119 C Street, SE, was where the Triad fundraising scandal of ‘96 was run.

                Shady shady shady dealings going on around the 100 block SE square of C and D.

                Posaune, you’re a local. Any idea who occupies the alley dwellings on that block?

      • BoxTurtle says:

        Yup. And if she didn’t declare it on her taxes (and she would have to regardless of where it came from), then it looks like a payoff and a coverup.

        Still, it’d be tough to prosecute on anything other than a tax fraud. The campaign violation, if it occured, was minor. If he paid for it out of personal cash, his biggest problem would be Mrs. Ensign. Or her lawyers.

        Boxturtle (Election is a long time away, but I am starting to smell dead meat)

      • plunger says:

        Actually, that could be defined as prostitution, if it were anyone other than a Senator “giving her the package,” as it were.

  3. fatster says:

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive.” — Sir W. Scott

    Nonetheless, Ensign’s “favorability rating stood at 39 percent, a drop of 14 percentage points from the previous month” while Harry Reid’s “favorability rating stands at 34 percent.”

    Or, “As Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Institute for Politics told the Review-Journal, “That sure says something, that the guy involved in the adultery scandal is the most popular senior elected official in the state. I don’t know what it says, but it says something.”’


    Nice work this am, EW. You make it seem so effortless!

  4. Teddy Partridge says:

    I don’t think there’s any argument anymore over what Mrs Hampton was; we’re simply trying to discern her rates now.

  5. Sara says:

    No, Jeff Sharlet has no mention of Porter Goss in “the Family.”

    It seems to me the going rate for providing housing for Congresscritters is 600 per month. That is what Norm Coleman was paying his lobbyist friend for a small apartment on the hill. An old family friend has considerable (taxed and for profit) rental property on the Hill and in Alexandria, and for a small efficency, no parking, she gets at least 2400 per month without utilites.

    From what Sharlet has to say about finance, the Family has a fairly large budget, but much of what they spend is “off the books.” The whole point of the Family, at least as led by Coe was to be very much under the radar.

  6. posaune says:

    slightly OT

    The Indian Gaming Trade Assn is around the corner on 2nd Street SE.

    Oh, and the Justice House of Prayer until a few months ago rented the 2nd floor of Bank of America on the SE corner of 2nd & Pennsylvania Ave. They just moved over a block next to Starbucks at 3rd & Penn SE. It looks like they have an entire row house now.

    If you google YWAM (Youth with a Mission), tax record owners of The Family’s house, you will see hits for Justice House of Prayer and a number of common names.

  7. runfastandwin says:

    “responsible for direct mail accounting”

    Is that what the kids are calling it these days? Good to know…

  8. posaune says:

    The alley houses (very cute, btw) are mostly hill staffers rentals.
    Would be interesting to see whose staffers?
    They are tiny tiny houses, 15′wide x 30′ deep.
    Most folks who rent only stay a year or two in them.
    Lot of wierd car break-ins there.
    Hubby’s car broken into twice back there and all they took were his grant proposals, not the DVD player or the rolls of quarters.
    The alley wraps around the Eisenhower Repub Club on the north & south sides of the building. That’s the building where “the emails” went, the “private” emails at the RNC domain managed from Chattanooga. Strange, but we’ve always noticed that the cars parked in front are old beat up clunkers.

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