June 18, 2009 in Nation/World

Ensign resigns from GOP leadership post

Associated Press
 

WASHINGTON – A former campaign aide to Sen. John Ensign confirmed her involvement Wednesday in an extramarital affair with the conservative Republican, lamented his decision to “air this very personal matter” and said she eventually would tell her side of the story.

An attorney for Cindy Hampton and her husband, Doug, issued a statement on their behalf as Ensign phoned in his resignation as a member of the Senate GOP leadership. The senator’s aides refused to return phone calls seeking additional details about a dalliance that pushed the 51-year-old Nevada lawmaker’s political career to the brink of disaster.

An Associated Press review of federal records showed Cynthia Hampton, 46, received a promotion and a pay raise around the time of the affair at one political entity controlled by Ensign and a pay raise at a second. Her husband was an employee in Ensign’s Senate office.

Ensign told a hastily arranged news briefing on Tuesday he had an extramarital affair with a woman on his campaign payroll, and it lasted several months, ending last August.

The disclosure resurrected questions about a two-week period in 2002, when Ensign abruptly dropped from public view. A person familiar with that episode said Tuesday the senator told a close associate the absence followed an earlier affair.

Ensign, in his second term, has said he intends to remain in the Senate. He offered to resign as head of the Republican Policy Committee in a midday phone call with Sen. Mitch McConnell, the party leader.

“He’s accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized to his family and constituents. He offered, and I accepted, his resignation as chairman of the Policy Committee,” said McConnell, R-Ky.

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