From THINK PROGRESS:
[…] Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), a member of GOP leadership and a potential candidate for president in 2012, [held] a press conference […] in which he [acknowledged] having an extramarital affair “with a campaign staffer who was married to an employee in Ensign’s Senate office.” Ensign flew back to Las Vegas to make the public announcement.
Ummm, Senator? In this case, what happens in Vegas ain’t gonna stay in Vegas!
(top to bottom: thrice-married Newt Gingrich, serial adulterer; David Vitter, diaper-clad whoremonger, John ‘Pot-calling-the-kettle-black’ Ensign, new kid in the club, thrice-married Rudy Giuliani, cross-dressing serial adulterer)
Since his election to the Senate in 2000, Ensign has been a leading conservative voice who demanded the resignation of former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig in September 2007. Ensign called Craig a “disgrace” after he was arrested in June 2007 in an airport men’s restroom on disorderly conduct charges. But when Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) acknowledged having an affair, Ensign didn’t call on him to resign.
Ensign has also been an ardent opponent of gay marriage. In Feb. 2004, Ensign announced his support for an amendment to the Constitution that would have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
[Ensign said,] “Marriage is an extremely important institution in this country and protecting it is, in my mind, worth the extraordinary step of amending our constitution.”
In 1998, while running for Nevada’s Senate seat against Harry Reid, Ensign called on President Clinton to resign in light of his admitted affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky […]
The Nevada Republican admitted in Las Vegas Tuesday that he had “violated the vows” of marriage by having an affair with a staffer. He did not identify the woman except to say that she and her husband were both “close friends” who worked for him, and that “the closeness” of their relationship had “put me in situations which led to my inappropriate behavior.”
But current and former aides to the Nevada Republican say the woman was 46-year-old Cynthia Hampton, a campaign staffer whose husband was a top aide in Ensign’s Senate office.
“It was known in [Ensign’s] inner circle that they were involved,” a former aide told POLITICO.
Hampton served as the treasurer for Ensign’s reelection campaign and for his leadership fund, Battle Born PAC. According to people familiar with the matter, Ensign’s affair with Hampton took place between December 2007 and August 2008. FEC records show that she ended her affiliation with the two committees in early 2008.
Hampton is married to Douglas Hampton, who, according to Senate records, served as Ensign’s administrative assistant in his personal office from November 2006 to May 2008 — around the same time Cynthia Hampton left Ensign’s committees.
Douglas Hampton was paid about $101,000 in 2008 and $144,000 in 2007 as Ensign’s administrative assistant. But a financial disclosure form he filed in 2007 and 2008 – required for senior congressional staffers – showed only checking and savings account worth a maximum $30,000 combined.
A review of public records shows that the Hamptons in 2006 took out a $1.2 million mortgage on their Las Vegas home, at an interest rate of 8 percent.
Political insiders in Nevada and in the Senate said that Ensign decided to acknowledge the affair publicly after the husband of the woman he had been seeing asked him for a substantial sum of money.
Ensign informed fellow Nevadan Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, about his situation prior to making his public announcement.
“I don’t know the details. I talked with him today,” Reid told POLITICO Tuesday afternoon. “Of course, he’s my friend. This is a private, family matter. I just hope that Darlene and he work things out.”
Rumors of the affair circulated through the Capitol Tuesday in the hours before Ensign made his announcement. Republican senators were stunned by the news, and Ensign’s future as chairman of the GOP Policy Committee – the No. 4 job in the GOP Senate leadership – was expected to be a topic for discussion among senators Wednesday.
Elected in 2000, the 51-year-old Ensign has moved up the leadership chain in the Senate. As chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2008, Ensign oversaw the devastating losses by GOP candidates. But his party largely spared him of blame, casting it instead on an unpopular president who dragged down the party’s brand.
A staunch fiscal and social conservative, Ensign has been considered a rising star in his party, recently making headlines by speaking at events in Iowa, raising speculation about his interest in a run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.
A born-again Christian, Ensign has been a member of the Promise Keepers, a male evangelical group that promotes marital fidelity.
When former Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in an airport men’s room in the summer of 2007, Ensign was among Craig’s toughest critics, saying Craig should step down because he had been charged with a crime.
“I wouldn’t put myself, hopefully, in that kind of position, but if I was in a position like that, that’s what I would do,” Ensign told The Associated Press at the time.