Adding some spice to the ‘vanilla’

ADDING SOME SPICE TO THE ‘VANILLA’…. The Washington Post ran a Style-section piece on Sen. John Ensign’s (R-Nev.) adulterous affair, largely dismissing its significance. The headline says this is “no affair to remember,” because it doesn’t match up to the salacious details of other recent political sex scandals (Craig, Foley, Spitzer, Edwards, Vitter).

The piece quotes an expert from a D.C. crisis management firm, calling the controversy “really vanilla.”

At first blush, that sounds plausible. Hypocritical politician promotes “sanctity of marriage,” then cheats on spouse with former aide. Hardly unprecedented stuff.

But there are still a few unresolved angles to this story.

The son of the couple at the center of the sex scandal that has engulfed Sen. John Ensign was being paid by National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2008 at the same time his mother was having an affair with the Nevada Republican.

Both Doug and Cynthia Hampton were already working in senior positions for Ensign when their son Brandon Hampton was hired to do “research policy consulting” for the NRSC in March 2008.

The younger Hampton, 19, was paid $5,400 before he left the Ensign office in August last year, Federal Election Commission records show.

The bi-weekly payments to the 19-year-old employee ended when the affair ended.

There’s also the matter of whether Ensign came forward to disclose the extra-marital relationship because he faced possible blackmail threats from his former mistress’ husband. That’s questionable, too.

David Kurtz added, “The closer you look at the John Ensign love triangle, the stranger it becomes…. It’s a very tangled web.”

“Really vanilla” is not the first phrase that comes to mind.