Nevada Sen. John Ensign, who is facing legal and ethics investigations that ultimately stem from an affair he had with the wife of an aide, set up a legal defense fund in May to help defray his mounting legal expenses. To date, according to The Week magazine and POLITICO.com, Ensign remains the only contributor to that fund, and even he has contributed only ten dollars.
I guess it just didn't look good to have the fund completely empty, like when the people at Starbucks throw a couple of bucks in their tip jar to make it look like others are contributing so you should too.
Ensign has admitted having an affair with his campaign treasurer, Cindy Hampton, who happened to be married to Ensign's administrative assistant and former longtime friend Doug Hampton. The Hamptons both moved on to other jobs in April 2008. Ensign helped Doug Hampton get a lobbying job, possibly in violation of federal law, and the Hamptons were paid $96,000 (oddly, not by Ensign but by his wealthy parents), an unusual "gift" that is also part of the investigations into whether Ensign broke ethics rules and criminal laws in a effort to cover up the affair.
A spokeswoman for Ensign said that the senator had spent "several hundred thousand dollars of his own money" on legal expenses even at the time the fund was set up. "It's just something I need help on," Ensign told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last month. "Lawyers are just incredibly expensive these days." I see – it's the lawyers' fault.
Not only are we incredibly expensive these days, the senator has had to retain an awful lot of us because of all these pesky investigations. According to the Review-Journal, Ensign has at least three teams of attorneys billing away, one on campaign-finance issues, one on the DOJ investigation, and one on the ethics charges. They cost a lot, it appears – hence, the legal defense fund.
Ensign said in June that he planned to raise the money himself. "I'm going to ask folks who've been supporters of mine, and hopefully we'll be able to get some help with it," he said. His use of the past tense when referring to "supporters" seems to be accurate, although his use of the plural may not be. During the first quarter of this year, Ensign's re-election campaign reported a total of $50 in contributions, all of which came from one guy in Las Vegas. That guy, retiree Robert Donald, apparently has not also helped with the legal-defense fund.
Also not contributing: Ensign's mom and dad. Although they may feel they have done enough.