Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Now that the Senate Ethics Committee has referred criminal charges to the Department of Justice against disgraced former Senator John Ensign (NV), the 75 page report issued by the committee contains troubling details about other current and former members of Congress that should lead to further committee action against one senator.
Senator Tom Coburn (OK) was at the center of Senator Ensign's negotiations for payments to his mistress and her family, and merits an ethics determination of his own. Much of the investigation is already completed in the course of the Ensign investigation. It is simply a matter of the Senate Ethics Committee making a recommendation regarding Senator Coburn.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) — which filed the initial complaint with the Ethics Committee against Ensign — said Coburn still has some explaining to do. Tom Coburn gets new scrutiny in Ensign scandal - POLITICO.com:
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.
“Although CREW filed a complaint against Sen. Coburn regarding his role, the committee did not comment on the clear inconsistencies between Sen. Coburn’s version of events and those of other witnesses. CREW hopes the ethics committee will release its report as to Sen. Coburn’s conduct as it did with the report on Sen. Ensign. This is all the more necessary given that Sen. Coburn is still in office,” Sloan added.
What the Senate Ethics Committee report revealed, from Politico:
As Ensign’s roommate at a Christian townhouse on Capitol Hill, Coburn was contacted by Doug Hampton in Feb. 2008 — just two months after Ensign’s affair with Cindy Hampton began — and asked to help bring it to an end.
Coburn was unsuccessful in at least two attempts to do so, including one episode where Hampton angrily confronted Ensign about the affair in front of Coburn and other lawmakers at the Washington townhouse, where several other lawmakers stayed when in the capital.
“Senator Coburn asked Mr. Hampton to leave, stating ‘we ll take it from here. We’ll take care of this,’” the Senate Ethics Committe report states.
Another confrontation with Ensign over the affair took place a month later. Coburn was again involved in that episode.
Coburn even reportedly spoke to Michael Ensign, the senator’s father, as part of this intervention effort. Coburn, however, denies that any conversation with Michael Ensign ever took place.
Yet Tim Coe, Ensign’s “spiritual adviser” and a member of the Christian group that owned the Capitol Hill townhouse where both Ensign and Coburn lived, claims it did. Michael Ensign also told Senate investigators that it may have occurred but he couldn’t recall.
Coburn then acted as a go-between for the Hamptons, their attorney, and Ensign when the parties tried to hash out a multi-million-dollar payoff for the Hamptons.
Coburn has denied a central role in those negotiations, but several witnesses told the Senate Ethics Committee that Coburn was a key figure in the discussions, which failed to produce a deal.
“Senator Coburn told Mr. Hampton that he wanted to get involved with the issue,” the ethics report declares. “Mr. Albregts [the Hamptons’ attorney] 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.”
The Hamptons sought as much as $8 million from Ensign, whose parents are wealthy casino executives. Coburn told Albregts that figure was “absolutely ridiculous.” Coburn had one conversation with Albregts as “he was on his tractor at home moving the lawn at the time….”
“Senator Coburn then stated that the Ensigns should buy the Hamptons’ 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 money to send the children off to college,” the report states.
The cost of that plan was closer to the $3 million range. “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,” Albregts told the Ethics Committee.
For his part, Coburn informed Senate investigators “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.”
Once the scandal went public in June 2009 and led to a huge political and media firestorm, Coburn deflected questions from the media. He told POLITICO that because he was a church deacon and a doctor, he was covered by a confidentiality privilege and would not have to disclose his role in the affair to anyone, even the Senate Ethics Committee.
Coburn, however, backed away from this stance, and by July 2010, Coburn was secretly cooperating with FBI agents looking at possible criminal charges against Ensign. Coburn turned over thousands of pages of documents — including emails — to federal prosecutors.
Coburn later volunteered to do interviews with the Justice Department and Senate Ethics Committee, both of which took place.
The Rachel Maddow Show laid out the sordid details regarding Senator Tom Coburn in this segment from Friday's program, featuring an interview with Melanie Sloan from CREW.
The CREW blog has this interesting tidbit from the Senate Ethics Committee report that the "lamestream media" has not yet picked up on. Why So Silent, Senator Santorum? | CREW:
The Ensign Report is full of lurid details highlighting the great lengths that Senator Ensign and his co-conspirators went to break numerous criminal laws, however, one of the interesting little nuggets that no one is really talking about (yet) is the role of former senator and likely presidential candidate Rick Santorum (R-PA).
Santorum, of course, has a long history of speaking out against what he deems to be sexual immorality, just Google his name (NSFW) or take a look at his appearance on a Pennsylvania talk show a few years back, discussing why people shouldn’t be able to “do what they want.”
When one of his friends behaved badly, Senator Santorum didn’t exhibit the same outrage, in fact he helped him with damage control. According to the Ensign Report, it was Senator Santorum who forwarded an email from Doug Hampton revealing the affair to Senator Ensign, which allowed him to get out in front of the story.
As more and more lurid details of Senator Ensign’s dalliances came to light, Sen. Santorum stayed uncharacteristically silent.
* * *
Senator Santorum is nothing if not a hypocrite.