The Opening On Tom Coburn
Other than it being a breach of ethics, I don't care about the mini-Peyton Place going on with John Ensign and the Hampton family who worked for him, including Cindy, with whom he had an adulterous affair. I guess Ensign paid the family, but he didn't actually do it, his mother did. Adulterer, conservative, hypocrite, got it.
What does interest me is the role of Tom Coburn (R-OK) in all of this. Hampton's husband Doug suggested that Coburn came up with the idea to pay off the family. Now remember, Coburn is the guy who goes on and on in the Senate about fiscal responsibility and debt and how we can't afford anything. The hundred-grand to clear up your wandering willie problem, I guess, is OK. But here's the kicker.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Thursday said he would not testify in court or before the Ethics Committee about any advice he gave Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) on how to handle his affair with a former staffer, citing constitutional protections for communications during religious counseling, as well as the patient confidentiality privilege.
“I was counseling him as a physician and as an ordained deacon. ... That is privileged communication that I will never reveal to anybody. Not to the Ethics Committee, not to a court of law, not to anybody,” Coburn said.
First of all, Coburn is an Ob/Gyn. Unless Ensign was trying to grow a womb, I don't know what the medical nature of their conversations would be. Second, I don't think any of this rises to the level of criminality or even a breach of Senate rules. But it's sublime to see Coburn, the self-styled pillar of moral rectitude in the Senate, arrogantly deny any view into his own behavior at the Ethics Committee. Smart Democrats would throw this right in his face every time he tries to derail a bill by talking about the cost or the possibility of corruption. They could make his life miserable. After a few months of it, I'll bet the WATB would decide not to run for re-election. He's only happy being a thorn in the sides of others, after all.
...now, if this was federal campaign money being tracked through Ensign's parents, then we have some kind of hush money deal. But I think he structured it with just enough plausible deniability to get away with it.