POLITICS:

Husband cuckolded by Ensign rips rising Santorum

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Sam Morris

Rick Santorum speaks to the media after the GOP presidential debate sponsored by CNN on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011, at the Venetian.

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 (2 a.m.)

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Doug Hampton is a former senior aide to Sen. John Ensign and is married to the woman with whom the senator admitted to having an affair.

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum betrayed his professed family values when he tipped off his friend, former Sen. John Ensign, that a story about his extramarital affair was about to break, said Doug Hampton, husband of the woman with whom Ensign had been having the affair.

“If Santorum was true to his values, why didn’t he ask Ensign to step down and why hasn’t he been more forthright on his reasons for doing what he did?” Hampton said in an interview with the Sun on Friday. “If you are a family-values guy, a straight-shooter, there is no reason for you not to address poignantly, truthfully and honestly your position and what you did. End of discussion.”

Hampton, who was one of Ensign’s top aides at the time, said he asked Santorum in June 2009 for help in ending the affair Ensign was having with his wife.

Instead of offering help, Santorum forwarded to Ensign an email Hampton had written to Fox News to publicize the affair in a last-ditch effort to put an end to it.

Santorum’s move allowed Ensign to acknowledge the affair and issue a public apology before the media could break the story.

“I begged Rick to talk to me first,” Hampton said in his first public interview since Santorum’s surge in the GOP presidential primary race. “I told him, ‘You don’t understand what I’ve done to try and help this man understand what he has done. You’re a good friend, maybe you could go talk to him.’ ”

The incident has become more and more galling to Hampton as Santorum has become a front-runner in the presidential race. Coming within eight votes of winning Iowa, Santorum has established himself as a religious conservative with traditional family values.

“What are you going to do if you are elected president and one of your cabinet members does this?” Hampton asked. “What are you going to do?”

The scandal surrounding Ensign’s affair spurred investigations by the Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee, which probed whether Ensign helped Hampton find lobbying jobs in violation of the one-year ban on Senate staffers becoming lobbyists.

Ensign resigned as the Ethics Committee investigation into the affair intensified and has not been charged in the matter.

Hampton, meanwhile, has been indicted and is facing a trial sometime this spring on charges of violating the lobbying ban.

Santorum’s senior adviser John Brabender said Santorum did “what anybody would do” when confronted with Hampton’s email.

“Put yourself in that role,” Brabender said. “Somebody you barely know sends you a letter about someone who you would consider a close friend. You would read it and think these seem like serious allegations and I should share this with my friend. I think that’s pretty typical behavior.”

But Hampton said Santorum’s family values should have dictated his response, rather than a knee-jerk reaction to protect a friend.

“If he really was a family-values guy, he would’ve stepped up and said, ‘We are godly men, we stand by our wives, you can’t continue to serve as a senator,’ ” Hampton said.

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