DSCC Uses Ensign Scandal to Attack Reid Challenger

Posted October 5, 2009 at 1:00pm

Updated: 2:40 p.m.Democrats are hoping to turn allegations against Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) into a political weapon for Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) re-election efforts.The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Monday harshly criticized Sue Lowden, a top GOP challenger to Reid in 2010, for continuing to support Ensign, who is alleged to have helped the husband of his former mistress line up a profitable lobbying job.“The most disturbing aspect of Sue Lowden’s reaffirmation of Ensign is that she did so fully aware of his potentially criminal conduct,— DSCC Communications Director Eric Schultz said in an e-mail to supporters Monday. “Sue Lowden’s support of John Ensign may have fundraising value to her, but it is a reflection of her own character and fitness for office. She has shown more fidelity to him, than he has shown to his own wife.—Lowden has said she hopes Ensign, who is already the subject on a “preliminary— Senate Ethics Committee investigation, would help campaign for Republicans running in next year’s election in Nevada.On Friday, the Elko Daily Free Press reported that Lowden refused to back away from her support of Ensign, despite a recent New York Times article alleging that the GOP Senator pressured donors to hire Doug Hampton, a former Ensign aide and the husband of his ex-mistress, Cynthia Hampton, as well as provided those clients with legislative assistance.Doug Hampton told the New York Times that he and Ensign knew their scheme was a violation of the one-year ban on top aides lobbying but went ahead with it anyway.Ensign has acknowledged having an affair with Cynthia Hampton, who formerly worked on Ensign’s campaign, while Doug Hampton served as one of Ensign’s top Senate aides. Ensign also has acknowledged his family paid the Hamptons nearly $100,000 after Doug Hampton found out about the affair.Republicans, however, fired back, calling Democrats’ efforts to link Lowden to Ensign a “desperation— move.“It’s ironic that the same day Vice President Biden is campaigning in Connecticut and standing by the ethically-challenged [Sen.] Chris Dodd [D-Conn.], the Democrats would want to make ethics an issue in Senate races. But when you consider that Reid and Dodd have the lowest approval numbers of any incumbent, in either party, facing re-election next year, it seems desperation is setting in early. The unfortunate reality for the Democrats is that next year’s election will be a referendum on Harry Reid, not anyone else,— National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh said.