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Spiritual issues and the most intimate personal matters were discussed, with the assurance of absolute confidentiality.

Coburn, the senior man in the house, enjoyed these sessions, but at dinner that Tuesday night in 2008 he was plainly troubled. “Guys,” he said, “we’ve got a problem in the house.”One day some weeks earlier, Coburn said, he had learned that John Ensign, who was married, was having an affair with Cynthia Hampton, the wife of one of his aides, Doug Hampton, and there had been an immediate intervention that same day.

The regulars at the dinner included the nine men who lived at the house, along with half a dozen colleagues and friends who were non-residents.

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Ensign, a handsome, silver-haired conservative, was a Republican with national prospects.

He and Doug Hampton had been extremely close, attending religious retreats together, and even buying houses in adjacent Las Vegas neighborhoods.

The men regarded themselves in part as an accountability group.

Despite their political differences—Coburn and Wamp are Republicans, Stupak and Doyle are Democrats—they had pledged to hold one another to a life lived by the principles of Jesus, and they considered the Tuesday supper gatherings at C Street an inviolable ritual.

midwinter night in 2008, Senator John Ensign, of Nevada, the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, was roused from bed when six men entered his room and ordered him to get up.

Ensign knew the men intimately; a few hours earlier, he had eaten dinner with them, as he had nearly every Tuesday evening since he’d come to Washington. They told him he was endangering his career, ruining lives, and offending God.Cindy Hampton had been Ensign’s campaign treasurer.Ensign’s Pentecostal faith, embraced when he was in graduate school, had been a central part of his public identity.The men leading this intervention considered themselves Ensign’s closest friends in Washington.Four of those who confronted Ensign—Senator Tom Coburn and Representatives Bart Stupak, Mike Doyle, and Zach Wamp—lived with him in a nineteenth-century brick row house on C Street *, in southeast Washington, a short walk from the Capitol.“I was part of a group called C Street when I was in Washington,” he said.

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