â¢ Nov 2006: Ensign becomes chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a key leadership post. His chief of staff, Todd Bensing, becomes the NRSC's executive director.
â¢ Nov 2006: To replace Bensing, Ensign promotes senior aide John Lopez. But he also hires Doug Hampton -- a close friend both from Promise Keepers and through the men's wives, who had been working at the utility company Nevada Power -- as an "administrative assistant," and places him in charge of managing the Washington office, a job that would usually fall to the chief of staff. The move annoys more secular staffers -- including Lopez -- who question Hampton's credentials.
â¢ 2007: Cynthia Hampton, Doug's wife, is hired to work as treasurer for Ensign's Senate campaign. (Ensign wouldn't face reelection until 2012, but had already begun raising money).
â¢ Dec 2007: The affair between Ensign and Cynthia Hampton begins. According to Doug Hampton, it began after the Hamptons moved in with the Ensigns because the Hampton's house had been burgled. The affair is quickly discovered when Doug Hampton finds an incriminating text message, and the families confront the issue on Christmas Eve. Bu the affair does not end.
â¢ Feb 2008: Cynthia Hampton also becomes treasurer of Battle Born PAC and the Ensign-affiliated Senate Majority Committee, after Christopher Ward, who had been treasurer of both operations, is ousted amid an embezzlement scandal. Her pay doubles.
â¢ Feb 2008: Ensign is confronted about the affair by Doug Hampton, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), and several other men associated with a Christian fellowship group to which Ensign and Cobun belong. Coburn and the others urge Ensign to pay the mortgage on the Hampton's $1.2 million Las Vegas home, and to pay to help them move to Colorado. they also urge Ensign to write a letter to Cindy Hampton ending the affair, then drive him to FedEx so he can mail the letter. But after mailing the letter, Doug Hampton claims, Ensign called Cindy and told her to disregard it. Twenty-four hours later, the amorous pair were together again.
â¢ March 2008: The Hampton's nineteen-year-old son, Brandon, receives his first payment from the NRSC.
â¢ April 2008: Ensign and his wife Darlene separate.
â¢ April 2008: Ensign tells his parents about the affair with Cynthia; his parents make gifts to the Hamptons and their two children in the form of checks totaling $96,000. Ensign's father, Mike Ensign, is a Nevada casino mogul who sold his shares in the Mandalay Group for around $300 million earlier this decade.
â¢ The Hamptons leave Ensign's employ. According to Doug, Cindy was asked to leave by members of Ensign's Christian group, not by the senator himself.
â¢ May 2008: The Hamptons return to their home in Las Vegas. (According to county records, the Hamptons purchased the five-bedroom, 4,360-square-foot property in 2004 for $1.23 million. Zillow.com, a Web site than analyzes real estate information, now prices their home in Summerlin's Trails Village at $862,000.)
â¢ May 2008: Doug Hampton starts working as a consultant at November Inc., a political consulting firm with close ties to Ensign. According to Doug Hampton, Ensign had helped line up the job in a meeting between Hampton, Ensign, and Mike Slanker, the founder of November Inc. and Ensign's former chief of staff. Slanker had learned of the affair, say Ensign, through Darlene Ensign, the senator's wife.
â¢ July 2008: John and Darlene Ensign reconcile.
â¢ Aug 2008: The affair between Ensign and Cynthia Hampton ends.
â¢ Aug 2008: Brandon Hampton receives his last payment from the NRSC.
â¢ Aug 2008: Doug Hampton stops working at November Inc, according to Slanker. Hampton says the gig didn't work out, and that he struggled to find clients. (But the Hill would report in December 2008 that Hampton was still "counsel" to November Inc. at that time, and that he would remain so.)
â¢ Aug 2008: Doug Hampton is hired as a vice president of government affairs for Allegiant Air, a Las Vegas airline run by a major Ensign backer. Ensign has admitted to helping line up this job, too.
â¢ Some time later: Brandon Hampton is hired by Allegiant as a call center representative.
â¢ June 11, 2009: Doug Hampton writes a letter to Fox News' Megyn Kelly, asking for her help in exposing Ensign's affair with Cynthia Hampton.
â¢ June 16, 2009: Ensign publicly admits to the affair.
â¢ June 19, 2009: Ensign's spokesman confirms to the AP that Ensign helped Doug Hampton get a job at Allegiant Air after the affair ended and Hampton left Ensign's office - "just as he has done for many other staff members."
â¢ July 8, 2009: Doug Hampton breaks his silence over the affair in an interview with Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun, for which he also releases the handwritten letter from Ensign to Cindy Hampton.
â¢ July 9, 2009: Good-government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) calls for a criminal investigation into payments made by Ensign to Cindy Hampton, based on Doug's new allegations.
â¢ July 9, 2009: In a statement from his lawyer, Ensign admits the payments made by his parents, saying they didn't violate any campaign-finance or tax laws.
â¢ July 9, 2009: Sen. Coburn denies Hampton's claim that Coburn urged Ensign to pay "restitution" to the Hamptons for the affair. Coburn says he counseled Ensign over the affair as a "physician" and "ordained deacon," and therefore won't reveal anything further about what he said, even as part of a criminal investigation.
Research assistance by Versha Sharma