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Ensign's Future Remains Unclear

Sen. John Ensign's political future got a little murkier this week as more details emerged about his extramarital affair – and other members of Congress were drawn into the ordeal.

Sen. Tom Coburn, a fellow conservative and confidant of Ensign's, affirmed to reporters Thursday that he knew about Ensign's affair and told him to end it. However, he denied allegations that he urged Ensign to pay off his mistress, Cindy Hampton, or her family.

"I categorically deny that," Coburn said when asked whether he had discussed with Ensign making payments to the Hamptons, the Tulsa World reports.

Coburn's statements came in response to accusations from Doug Hampton, Cindy's husband, in a televised interview with Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun.

"This was at the request of Tom Coburn and some people to try and help them manage John," Doug Hampton said about the proposal to pay the family.

While Coburn denied that allegation, he said some of his discussions with Ensign remain "privileged" because Coburn was acting in his capacity as a physician and church deacon, according to the Tulsa World.

Coburn is a family practice physician who specializes in obstetrics.

Ensign's lawyer revealed yesterday that the senator's parents paid the Hamptons $96,000 as a gift made "out of concern for the well-being of long-time family friends during a difficult time."

Ensign's political support among politicians and voters is unraveling, the Las Vegas Sun reported Thursday.

"It's not good," Texas Sen. John Cornyn said about Ensign's situation. Cornyn replaced Ensign as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee after the affair was revealed.

Ensign could lose the support of Mormon voters in Nevada who had approved of the senator's conservative values as a result of the scandal, former Sen. Warren Hardy told the Sun.

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