LAS VEGAS – The owner of a Canada-based dating Web site says he was jilted when he tried to place an advertisement in Nevada's largest newspaper to capitalize on U.S. Sen. John Ensign's extramarital affair.
AshleyMadison.com founder Noel Biderman in Toronto blamed Las Vegas Review-Journal Publisher Sherman Frederick for refusing to allow the full-page ad that appeals to adults "looking to have a discreet affair."
"They told me, 'How quickly can you pay us?"' Biderman said Thursday of the $20,000 ad. "I sent the money. I expected to see the ad."
Frederick rejected Biderman's claim that the newspaper with a weekday circulation of about 200,000 lacked the courage to run the ad, and he dismissed the notion that the Review-Journal was protecting Ensign.
"I simply didn't think the Web site was appropriate for our daily newspaper," Frederick said in an e-mail. "The Ensign story was our lead Page 1 news story for the last two days. Any suggestion we are protecting the senator is simply a PR stunt on behalf of an adultery Web site."
The ad was scheduled to run two days after Ensign acknowledged having had an extramarital affair last year with Cynthia Hampton, a Las Vegas woman who had worked on his campaign. Hampton and her husband, Doug, who also formerly worked for the senator, had been close friends with Ensign and his family, according to Ensign.
Biderman said the ad was an "open e-mail" addressed to "US Senator from Nevada." It does not name Ensign.
"Having an office affair is just too big of a gamble. The odds of getting caught are just too high," said the ad, signed by fictitious company chief executive Ashley Madison.
It suggests the senator should have used the "secure, completely anonymous" Web site. "No headlines, no scandals," the ad said.
Biderman said the ad was similar to one he placed in a New York newspaper after that state's governor, Eliot Spitzer, was identified as Client-9 in a pricey, multi-city prostitution ring. Spitzer resigned in disgrace.
"I think they should have had the courage to run the ad," Biderman said.