Team Ensign is continuing to walk back its original claim that Doug Hampton, the husband of the senator’s girlfriend, tried to extort Ensign.
Two Senate Republican sources close to Sen. John Ensign of Nevada told FOX News that a former employee had asked Ensign for money in what both sources described as a case of “extortion.”
But now, an Ensign spokesman tells the AP that within the last month Hampton made “exorbitant demands for cash and other financial benefits” through an attorney, and that the matter was referred to Ensign’s lawyer.
In other words, Hampton threatened a lawsuit. Unless you’ve got an amazingly ham-handed lawyer, that’s a far cry from extortion, which can be a felony. Had extortion occurred, Ensign’s lawyer would presumably have had to contact law enforcement, and there’s no evidence that happened.
The new lawsuit claim is consistent with the letter sent by Hampton to Fox News, in which Hampton wrote:
I have sought a number of lawyers who are having difficulty finding charges that may hold up in court. There are either technicalities that exist due to the time period in which I have sought help, or other nuances that quite frankly make no sense to me given the egregious acts and blatant abuse of power by Senator Ensign.
So it appears that when the lawsuit angle didn’t work out, Hampton went to the media.
As for that whole extortion accusation, it looks like the Ensign camp is hoping everyone will just forget about it.