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Ensign's Parents Gave Mistress $96K

Sen. John Ensign's parents gave his mistress and her family nearly $100,000 in gifts, the senator's lawyer said Thursday.

The Nevada Republican's parents gave the gifts to Cindy Hampton, Doug Hampton and their two children in April 2008 after learning about the affair, Ensign's attorney Paul Coggins said in a statement.

The gifts came in the form of $12,000 checks from each parent to each member of the Hampton family, totaling $96,000 -- small enough amounts to make them exempt from IRS reporting requirements and exempt from gift taxes.

Coggins said in the statement the gifts were made "out of concern for the well-being of long-time family friends during a difficult time" and were "consistent with a pattern of generosity by the Ensign family to the Hamptons and others."

None of the gifts came from campaign or official funds, Coggins said, nor were they related to any campaign or official duties. He said Ensign has complied with all applicable laws and Senate ethics rules.

The statement was released after the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington today asked the Justice Department to investigate Ensign's payments to Hampton.