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Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign becomes the latest ethics-challenged member of Congress to throw in the towel.
Ensign, dogged by admissions of nailing a female member of his staff and other ethics questions, will submit his letter of resignation Friday and leave office on May 3.
The Senate Ethics Committee named a special counsel earlier this year to look into questions over Ensign’s ethics after the Justice Department and Federal Election Commission dropped their investigations into the Nevada Senator.
Ensign continues to claim he did nothing wrong — except cheat on his wife — but said he was quitting to avoid “further wear and tear on his family.”
“I was hopeful that, with the closure of these investigations (by the Justice Dept. and FEC) against me, the wear and tear on my family would soon be over,” Ensign said Thursday. “This was not the case.”
As is its right, the Senate Ethics Committee is continuing its investigation of issues into which it has been inquiring for the past year and a half. Indeed, the Committee even decided recently to devote more resources to its investigation by hiring an outside counsel even though the issues have been viewed and reviewed by so many others.
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.
In 2009, Ensign admitted to an affair with Cynthia Hampton, a former member of his campaign staff. He also admitted helping her husband, Doug Hampton, a member of his Senate office staff, obtain lobbying work from two Nevada companies. Doug Hampton was later indicted for violating a federal law that prohibits a former senior staffer from lobbying the Senate within a year after leaving his job. He is awaiting trial.
Nevada Republican Governor Brian Sandoval is expected to appoint an interim Senator to fill out the remainder of Ensign’s term, which expires at the end of 2012.