En­sign re­signs Se­nate GOP lead­er­ship post in wake of af­fair

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY SEAN LENGELL

Sen. John En­sign, one day af­ter pub­licly ad­mit­ting to an ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair, said June 17 that he was step­ping down from his Se­nate lead­er­ship post but would re­main in the cham­ber.

The Ne­vada se­na­tor re­layed his de­ci­sion to Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, Ken­tucky Repub­li­can, who said he ac­cepted Mr. En­sign’s res­ig­na­tion.

Mr. En­sign was chair­man of the Repub­li­can Pol­icy Com­mit­tee, con­sid­ered the fourth-rank­ing spot in the Se­nate Repub­li­can chain of com­mand.

“He’s ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity for his ac­tions and apol­o­gized to his fam­ily and con­stituents,” Mr. McCon­nell said.

Mr. En­sign, who re­port­edly was in Ne­vada on June 17, couldn’t be reached for com­ment. Spokes­men for the se­na­tor also didn’t re­spond to phone or e- mail re­quests for com­ment.

The pol­icy com­mit­tee is es­sen­tially a leg­isla­tive think tank in­tended to co­or­di­nate and en­hance Repub­li­can pol­i­cy­mak­ing. As chair­man, Mr. En­sign also was re­spon­si­ble for or­ga­niz­ing for his fel­low Se­nate Repub­li­cans their weekly Tues­day lunch meet­ings, dur­ing which ma­jor leg­isla­tive is­sues and roll-call votes are dis­cussed.

Mr. En­sign, 51, an­nounced at a June 16 news con­fer­ence in Ne­vada that he had an af­fair with a woman who was a mem­ber of his cam­paign staff. A spokesman said the af­fair took place from De­cem­ber 2007 to Au­gust 2008 and that the staffer was mar­ried to an em­ployee in Mr. En­sign’s Se­nate of­fice.

The se­na­tor told re­porters that it was “the worst thing I have ever done in my life.”

“If there was ever any­thing in my life that I could take back, this would be it,” said Mr. En­sign, who de­clined to take ques­tions from re­porters.

Las Ve­gas lawyer Daniel J. Al­bregts on June 17 is­sued a state­ment that clients Cindy and Doug Hamp­ton con­firmed they are the cou­ple whom Mr. En­sign al­luded to at the pre­vi­ous day’s news con­fer­ence, ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press.

“It is un­for­tu­nate the se­na­tor chose to air this very per­sonal mat­ter, es­pe­cially af­ter the Hamp­tons did ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to keep this mat­ter pri­vate,” the lawyer said. “It is equally un­for­tu­nate that he did so without con­cern for the ef­fect such an an­nounce­ment would have on the Hamp­ton fam­ily.”

He added that “in time, the Hamp­tons will be ready and will­ing to tell their side of the story.”

Mrs. Hamp­ton, of Las Ve­gas, had worked on sev­eral of Mr. En­sign’s elec­tion com­mit­tees, while her hus­band was a top as­sis­tant in the se­na­tor’s of­fice in Wash­ing­ton. Both left Mr. En­sign’s em­ploy­ment in the spring of 2008.

The Las Ve­gas Sun re­ported June 17 that Mrs. Hamp­ton was paid al­most $1,400 per month for most of 2007 as trea­surer of Mr. En­sign’s Bat­tle Born Po­lit­i­cal Action Com­mit­tee.

Her salary in­creased slightly in Jan­uary 2008, but then dou­bled to nearly $2,800 per month in Fe­bru­ary 2008 and stayed at that higher rate through March and April, when she left the job, the news­pa­per said.

Edie Cartwright, a spokes­woman for the Ne­vada At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Of­fice, said the agency has no in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­gard­ing the af­fair.

The se­na­tor has risen quickly through the Se­nate lead­er­ship since tak­ing of­fice in 2001 and serves on sev­eral pow­er­ful com­mit­tees, in­clud­ing fi­nance, bud­get and home­land se­cu­rity. His cur­rent six-year term ex­pires in Jan­uary 2013.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IM­AGES

Tainted pol: Sen. John En­sign

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