Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Senate Report on John Ensign: More on Sen. Tom Coburn's Role Revealed

Sen. Tom Coburn's role in the John Ensign sex scandal became clearer this week when the Senate Ethics Committee released the results of its 22-month investigation.

It's not pretty. Ensign, a Nevada Republican who recently resigned his seat in the Senate, comes off as something much less honorable than his squeaky-clean, conservative, family-values image would suggest.

Oklahoma's Coburn, also a conservative, family-values Republican, fares much better than Ensign, though the record shows that Coburn's role in the Ensign saga was more extensive that he has admitted.

Some relevant portions of the Senate report (pages 37-38) involving Coburn and the other parties are posted below. It's long and the report doesn't include various other statements made by Coburn and others, but it's still very interesting reading.
Mr. Hampton then told Mr. Albregts that Senator Coburn was expecting his call to continue the negotiations. Senator Coburn told Mr. Hampton that he wanted to get involved with the issue. Mr. Albregts recalled that the communications he had with Senator Coburn occurred the week before Memorial Day 2009. Mr. Albregts understood that Senator Coburn was going to act as an intermediary between Senator Ensign and Mr. Hampton.

Mr. Albregts spoke with Senator Coburn on three occasions, all on May 22, 2009. Mr. Albregts first had a five-minute call with Senator Coburn. Senator Coburn said that he wanted to help Doug out. Senator Coburn also stated that he liked Doug Hampton, felt bad about what happened, and he was glad that they retained counsel to resolve this issue. Senator Coburn told Mr. Albregts to have Mr. Hampton tell him what he thinks he needs to start over, and Senator Coburn would then take that to the Ensigns.
Mr. Albregts had an eight-minute call with Senator Coburn approximately an hour later. Senator Coburn recalled that he was on his tractor at his home mowing his lawn at the time, and was annoyed to receive the call in the middle of that task. Mr. Albregts tried to get a ballpark estimate from Senator Coburn as to the amount he would be comfortable with. Mr. Albregts proposed $8 million based on a document Doug Hampton prepared. According to Mr. Albregts, Senator Coburn said that the figure was absolutely ridiculous.    

Senator Coburn then stated that the Ensigns should buy the Hampton's home because it is so close to the Ensigns, and the Hamptons should receive an amount of money above and beyond that to start over, buy a new home, have some living money while they were looking for new employment, and possibly some seed money to send the children off to college. Senator Coburn stated that that's what I've thought from day one would be fair, but said that $8 million was nowhere close to a reasonable figure. Senator Coburn told Mr. Albregts to figure out what those amounts would be, and call him back.

Mr. Albregts then spoke with Mr. Hampton, and asked him how much it would cost to get the house paid for, and how much he needed above that figure to get started somewhere new. Mr. Hampton then came back with some figures, and estimated $1.2 million for the home, and another $1.6 million to get started somewhere new. Mr. Albregts called Senator Coburn back for the final time with this revised figure on the same day in a five-minute call. Per Mr. Albregts, Senator Coburn responded by stating that okay, that's what I had in mind and I think is fair and said he would take the figure to the Ensigns. Mr. Albregts later heard from Mr. Hampton that Senator Ensign refused the revised offer.

Senator Coburn testified that he told Mr. Hampton's attorney, Mr. Albregts, in May 2009 that he was not the negotiator, and it's got to be something apropos.    Senator Coburn also testified that he did not propose any resolution, but was simply going to pass information to Senator Ensign. Mr. Albregts testified that Senator Coburn took an active role in the negotiations between Mr. Hampton and Senator Ensign, and this role included proposing specific resolutions.

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