Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sen. Coburn's John Ensign Ethics Problem: It's Not Going Away

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn remains entangled in the ethical problems of his former U.S. senate colleague, John Ensign of Nevada. 

Coburn, a housemate of Ensign's at the notorious C Street house in Washington, tried to help Ensign by serving as a go-between for the senator and his aid, Doug Hampton. As you may recall, Ensign—an avowed Christian and conservative Republican—was having a sexual affair with Hampton's wife. Oops!

Coburn has been spinning his actions in the Ensign scandal as simply assisting Doug Hampton, a person he liked. But critics, including a report from the Senate Ethics Committee—have not been so kind.

Nor was a recent letter writer to the Tulsa World. The writer, Herb Rains of Ponca City, asked this interesting question: "Why did Coburn become the intermediary between Ensign and Doug Hampton…?"

Rains notes that Coburn spoke to Hampton's attorney Daniel Albregts three times in one day in 2009, suggesting a much lower payment from Ensign to Hampton. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow has said that Coburn was helping save Ensign (or his parents) money. The incident, Rains says, has been a "soap opera."

We agree. Given the taint of this mess, Coburn has not been serving Oklahomans well. Or as Rains put it, "Coburn has a lot on his plate these days–at our expense." 

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