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Colleagues Accept Ensign's Apology

By Paul Kane

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) apologized to his colleagues today in a closed-door meeting of Senate Republicans, drawing a warm embrace from a GOP conference that just a week ago considered him a rising star before he revealed an affair with a woman who was a close family friend.

Ensign -- who took circuitous routes to and from the luncheon to avoid facing the media -- gave what senators called a two-minute speech to his fellow Senate Republicans, drawing a round of applause afterward that, they said, closed the issue in their minds despite calls from some watchdogs for an ethics committee investigation of the affair.

"He apologized and we welcomed him back," Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) told reporters afterward. Added Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.): "I think he's prepared to move on, and I wish him well."

Even Democrats resisted criticizing Ensign. Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said he still considered Ensign a close friend, noting that he's known Ensign's father, casino executive Mike Ensign, for decades. "I hope he works his way through this," Reid said of John Ensign.

After spending most of last week hunkered down with his family in Las Vegas, Ensign returned to the Capitol yesterday. Today's remarks were his first to senators since last Tuesday's surprise announcement in Las Vegas, when he admitted having a more than eight-month affair last year with Cynthia L. Hampton, a longtime friend of the Ensign family. For the previous five years she served as a book-keeping consultant for his political committees. In April 2008, at the same time Ensign and his wife separated, Hampton abruptly left her job on the senator's political payroll at the same time her husband, Douglas Hampton, left Ensign's legislative payroll as an administrative assistant in the Senate office. The affair continued into August, both sides say.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal-leaning watchdog group, has suggested the Senate ethics committee should conduct an investigation into whether the Hamptons were fired from their jobs because of the extramarital affair, which would violate Senate rules on the proper grounds for dismissing employees. Under congressional rules, Doug Hampton had just six months to file a complaint against Ensign with a Senate office set up to deal with employment issues, although no such prohibition applied to Cindy Hampton.

In a statement Friday, Ensign's office said a lawyer for the Hamptons had been asking for an "exorbitant" amount of money and that they discovered early last week Doug Hampton had contacted Fox News about the affair, prompting his hastily arranged press event to reveal the affair on his own terms.

Last week Ensign resigned his position as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, the No. 4 position in leadership, and today Ensign's colleagues said this was private matter among the two families, with no need for any further public revelations or investigation.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Ensign delivered a "heartfelt apology" and that he was "somber and serious".

"I think he's been very stand up about it," Corker added.

Ensign, however, continued to duck questions from the media about the scandal. For today's meeting, Ensign took a back stairwell that led into the back door of the Mansfield Room just off the chamber floor, allowing him to avoid the normal entrance where a group of photographers and reporters are usually gathered. Exiting the meeting, he took the same back route without seeing any media.

By Paul Volpe  |  June 23, 2009; 3:41 PM ET
Categories:  Ethics and Rules , Senate  
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Next: Baucus: White House 'Wants a Bipartisan Deal'


Of course they accept his apology. A+holes stick together.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | June 23, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I don't give a rip who he is screwing - hey, he's a Republican; been screwing the public forever.

THe problem is that HE demanded that Clinton resign. Then He demanded that Larry Craig resign. As did most o fthe republicans.

He should publicly acknowledge his hypocrisy, and his double standard, then apologize to the people of this country.

Posted by: stodayxx | June 23, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I agree with other posters. I don't care who he has sex with, but his hypocrisy is stunning. He's out there ruining two different marriages, but he's also fighting hard to make sure gays can't marry, citing his embrace of 'traditional marriage'?

So which 'traditional marriage' was he fighting for? His own, when he cheated on his wife? Or the marriage of the woman he was messing around with?

Posted by: Hillman1 | June 23, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

"Gentlemen, ladies, I'm somber and serious today, sorry i got caught boinking one of my female staff and paying her too. My bad.

But hey, my affair was much different than when I criticized President Clinton's affair and called it an impeachable defense. At least I renumerated the woman. No harm no foul, right?

I'm sure i can still help the republicants party re-achieve top dog status by example.

Thanks for closing ranks and pretending it didnt happen! We are really good at that aren't we, guys?

"Last detail, folks. I had to fire said former lady friend / staff (and her husband) recently but the ongoing boinking, of course, didnt have anything to do with their departure from my staff, see?" Right! 2009----Repub Nutbars dropping left and right. Next, SANFORD!

Posted by: LegalizeHempPot | June 23, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Sincere Citizens for Recreation and Extramaritals in Washington, a multi-partner love life group, has suggested the Senate ethics committee should conduct an orgy on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. Senate Republicans, mindful of the moral implications, denounced the invitation as, one Senate staffer put it, "the work of satan, or possibly Howard Dean." Conservative turnout was apparently still high, despite the denunciations, as indicated by the numerous elephant tatoos on display and the large quantities of E.D. drugs required by the participants.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | June 23, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Getting a thumbs up from Bob Corker, dumb as a stump, is not a way forward. But, where were all these GOP senators who ducked and dodged and issued, "no comment," just a few days ago? What has happened that they give "warm applause" but no detailed comments today? I don't get it. Is this hypocrisy, cowardice or just party politics at its worst?

Posted by: harper-d | June 23, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Yet another Evangelical struggling with morals. Preach! Preach! Preach! Morals! Morals!Family Vaues! Yeah !!

But it never applies to them.

"So let wealth take wings should you ever come to power and abuse it."

Goodbye you loser.

Posted by: toddL2 | June 23, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

While extra-marital affairs are a fact of life; the hypocritical nature of the GOP is stunning. This is the party of Family Values (and unprovoked wars, clandestine operations against other parties, greed and avarice at the hand of the taxpayers, and a reverse Robin-Hood of the past 8 years)...The US has forgotten what Mark Twain once said "always support your country" and "the government, when it deserves it" This party is rotted to it's core...and a Bob Corker endorsement? He, unfortunately, represents my state in the US senate, after pointing out to the good citizens of this state that, when he was behind in the polls, it was to a black candidate (Harold Ford)...This was the advice given him by Karl Rove as he was parachuted into TN to keep it from going blue two cycles ago.

Posted by: TNbybirth | June 23, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Whether it is the Big One hooked on pain killers, the Alaska Moose with lipstick spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on clothing and her daughter getting pregnant out of wedlock or Bush and Cheney leading us into war on lies, we can conclude that the Republicans are shameless hypocrites. A pox on your houses.

Posted by: medogsbstfrnd | June 23, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Hypocrite, Hypocrite,Hypocrite Republicans
But his Republican buddies stand behind him, many of them hiding their own affairs.
We need honest political figures who will work for their constituents instead of big biz and their own self interest.

Posted by: fotoartiste | June 23, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

It is refreshing to read this documentation of "moral" fraud and deceit.

Particularly since the media, with the Pest right in front, have been deluging us with "fair and balanced" coverage of the failed, late, unlamented faceless dupes of the former GOP since Obama's wide victory in November.

Witness, for example, the curiously fey Lispey, uh "Lindsay" (not a very common boy's name, is it) Graham unctuously attempting to blame his own failures in middle east foreign policy on Obama.

The oddly sagging, almost dead "ex-candidate" John McCain (remember, born in the Canal Zone--obvious sign of a traitor) allowed to fatuously dribble his nonsense on the Sunday yack shows.

These men will all be dead soon enough. Who cares what they think about anything? Does this kind of pseudo-"fairness" sell newspapers? Doesn't seem to work for the Moony Times very well.

Posted by: lambcannon | June 23, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Did I forget the ultra-pure Sarah Palin, the one with the unmarried teenage pregnancy in her direct line? Great training, Sarah. Way to go.... in the meantime, blame a talentless old fossil like Letterman for getting in your way to easy, sleezy election in 2012 (snicker).

Posted by: lambcannon | June 23, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Closed Republican conference members give Ensign a warm embrace, a group hug but not for too long with the exception of Larry Craig, and profusely thanks Ensign for not getting caught being gay, paying hookers or wearing a diaper.

This absolution moves Ensign, along with South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, The Appalachian Wanderer, up to being the top two contenders with Sarah I Can See Clearly Russia Palin for the 2012 Republican Party of America candidacy for President of The World.

Liberal, left-wing Huey Newtonesque and the News far-out agitators in Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW)still refuse to realize that the Venn diagrams of Ethics, Responsibility and Washington shall never overlap each other in any way, shape or form continues with Quixote-like quest to have all the bad stuff that Ensign did with other peoples' money as a result of the affair investigated.

Republicans, always on the lookout to protect their wounded wayward bretheren from any criminal charges, such as war crimes, unauthorized wiretapping or lying us into invading a country say it's a personal matter, the cuckholded husband hasn't attacked Ensign even though he wrote a letter of objection to that blonde chick on Fox News(name a chick who doesn't have a colorist on retainer at Fox) and there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for the Republican Party of America to strike Ensign's colors. Only liberal socialists who hate the troops and hate America want that.

It was the exorbitant amount of blackmail money that Ensign says was demanded of him to make do the pre-emptive news conference last week stunning the few who didn't know he was messing around already. Had it been a reasonable, not exorbitant, amount of extortion, no problem. But exorbitant extortion, problem.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), a veteran of race baiting swiftboating of a political opponent, pronounces that Ensign delivered a 'heart-felt apology', was 'somber and serious' and Corker added, 'I think he's been very stand up about it.' From the back of the Republican meeting room, someone, rumor is that it was Craig yelled, 'That's what she said!' All Republicans hugged once again, thanked Ensign for not being gay, paying a hooker or wearing a diaper and adjourned the meeting to get back to the important task of governing America, making sure the present regime in Iran stays in power and slaughters protesters and, most important of all, making sure Obama fails. There just aren't enough hours in the day for a Republican!

Posted by: Patriot3 | June 23, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Not that he's worth much in the larger scheme of things, but former Sen Larry Craig deserves a public apology from Ensign. President Clinton deserves a public apology too.

I don't remember, did Ensign go after David Vitter too?

If Ensign doesn't publicly apologize to those he's called out for similar behavior, then John "Swinging Dick" Ensign is a world class hypocrite besides his personal failure as a husband.

Posted by: Roofelstoon | June 23, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

What a bunch of goddam hypocrites. After what they did to Clinton they've got the balls to give this clown a standing ovation because he fessed up after getting busted. Why aren't they calling for his head like they did to Pelosi for doing something half as bad? One thing about the PNAC Mafia, they never ever practice what they preach.

Posted by: HemiHead66 | June 23, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the Republicans!

How amusing they would all be in their hypocrisy if they did not believe they alone hold the standard for morality, decency, and Christianity and are always ready to point fingers at those who they deem are immoral, etc.

However, with the extramartial affairs, the sex texting of pages, the soliciting of sex in bathrooms, etc. they are becoming the bastions of impropriety.

What next for the GOP? Sheep?

Unfortunately for America, they hold public office and make decisions which quite regularly adversely affect the lives of everyday Americans.

GOP = greatly obnoxious perverts

Posted by: abby0802 | June 23, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

At least, his spouse didn't have to stand by while he came clean-like he would have never done if he wasn't outted. I have never understood WHY the spouses agree to go in front of the world with them to admit to these affairs?

Posted by: kml | June 23, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

What happens in Vegas...oops I committed adultery in Washington. I guess you get a pass on cuckolding your staff members? Republicans are tools...

Posted by: 7720806 | June 23, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

What a great hug-a-round for the Conservative Love Bunch. And when he runs again, he won't have to change much on his old campaign brochures: "Promise Keeper" will simply become "Promise Breaker" and "I support marriage and fidelity" will be changed to: "I support marriage with a little infidelity to make it stronger."

Posted by: benighse | June 23, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

If Ensign were a Dem, the Republicans would be holding press conferences denouncing him. Its all about Senate numbers -- the Republicans don't want Ensign to resign because they'd have one less vote to oppose Democrats, the same reason Norm Coleman fights one court battle after another to keep Al Franken from taking office. Liars, crooks and hypocits -- that's who runs the Republican Party.

Posted by: owens1 | June 24, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

... wait 'till they find out it was a GUY he was having an affair with ...

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | June 24, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

You know, I read some of the comments and I so agree with those saying that he's this hypocrite who seems to think it's okay to cheat on his wife...and judge others. But is against things such as same-sex marriage, etc. It is so hypocritical and so sickening.

Posted by: lvnlfye5770 | June 24, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

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