John Ensign, Republican Senator from Nevada, announced his resignation on Thursday following investigations into a sex and corruption scandal. Here are some facts about Ensign’s political career, personal life, extramarital affair and the corruption scandal.
It is with tremendous sadness that I officially hand over the Senate seat that I have held for eleven years, Ensign said in a statement.
“While I stand behind my firm belief that I have not violated any law, rule, or standard of conduct of the Senate, and I have fought to prove this publicly, I will not continue to subject my family, my constituents, or the Senate to any further rounds of investigation, depositions, drawn out proceedings, or especially public hearings. For my family and me, this continued personal cost is simply too great.
Before becoming the 24th U.S. Senator for Nevada, Ensign had worked as a veterinarian and small business owner. Ensign was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000. He had served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives between 1995 and 1999.
He had unsuccessfully run a Senate race in 1998 when he was defeated by current Senate Majority leader Harry Reid. However, the two went on to develop good relationship. In 2006, Ensign defeated Jack Carter, son of former president Jimmy Carter to win a second term in the US Senate.
He was raised in northern Nevada and moved to southern Nevada where he graduated from Clark High School. Ensign is married and is a father of three children. Ensign, a member of the Pentecostal International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, is the only Pentecostal in the Senate, according to a Wikipedia entry.
Ensign has been staunch supporter of conventional family values, the establishment of marriage, animal rights, small government, fiscal responsibility. He opposed gay marriages and had a pro-life voting record.
Affair with Cynthia Hampton
On June 17, 2009, Ensign admitted to having an extramarital affair with campaign treasurer, Cynthia Hampton. The affair reportedly took place between December 2007 and August 2008.
He said the affair was 'absolutely the worst thing that I have ever done in my life’ and expressed deep regret for his action and for hurting his wife. Our families were close, a weary-looking Ensign said. That closeness put me into situations which led to my inappropriate behavior. We caused deep pain to both families and for that I am sorry, he said.
Cynthia Hampton, who was 46 at the time, was married to Douglas Hampton, who also worked for the Senator. Douglas Hampton served as an aide in his Capitol Hill office from November 2006 to May 2008.
It was reported by AP in 2009 that his wife Darlene said the families had worked through the situation resulting from Ensign's now public extramarital affair. She was reported to have said: “with the help of our family and close friends our marriage has become stronger.
Ensign's views on Marriage
Ensign attacked President Bill Clinton after Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky became public in 1998. Ensign said Clinton must resign, adding that He has no credibility left. ironically, Ensign himself has now quit public office after admitting to an extramarital affair with an aide.
Speaking on the Federal Marriage Amendment in the Senate in 2004, Ensign said: Marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded. For those who say that the Constitution is so sacred that we cannot or should not adopt the Federal Marriage Amendment, I would simply point out that marriage, and the sanctity of that institution, predates the American Constitution and the founding of our nation.
Ensign was embroiled in a corruption scandal after he revealed that that his parents paid $96,000 to Douglas and Cynthia Hampton after they were fired from his staff. Though Ensign said the money was a gift, there were allegations that the money was an improper campaign contribution made by his parents.
Ensign is currently facing a Senate Ethics Committee probe which investigates if he violated ethics rules and federal laws.