Sources in Washington and Nevada say Republican Sen. John Ensign, a rising star in the Republican Party considering a 2012 presidential bid will hold a press conference later today in which he will acknowledge an extramarital affair.
Ensign, a member of the Senate GOP leadership, flew back to his native Las Vegas today in anticipation of the public announcement, sources said, missing a vote considered key to the Nevada tourist industry.[..]
Elected in 2000 and reelected in 2006, Ensign has been a leading conservative among Senate Republicans, playing a key role in demanding the resignation of 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. Craig resisted the calls from Ensign to resign but retired from the Senate last November.
Per TPM, the woman worked on the Ensign re-election campaign and her husband worked as one of his Senate staffers. The reason it came to light now?
For a guy who harbored presidential ambitions, this is tough blow to his hopes for 2012. So something had to give. What was it?
Late Update: Politico has more detail, including a reported demand for money from the husband of Ensign's lover: Political insiders in the Senate and in Nevada told POLITICO that Ensign began an affair with a staffer several months after he separated from his wife. When Ensign reconciled with his wife, the sources said, he gave the aide a severance package and parted ways.
Sometime later, a Nevada source said, Ensign met with the husband of the woman involved and had what this source described as a positive encounter. Sources said that the man subsequently asked Ensign for a substantial sum of money - at which point Ensign decided to make the affair public.
Ouch. So cheating on your wife and extortion from former employees? How does that square with this statement made in 2004 regarding the sanctity of marriage:
“Marriage recognizes the ideal of a father and mother living together to raise their children,” Ensign said. “Marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded. For those who say that the Constitution is so sacred that we cannot or should not adopt the Federal Marriage Amendment, I would simply point out that marriage, and the sanctity of that institution, predates the American Constitution and the founding of our nation. Marriage, as a social institution, predates every other institution on which ordered society in America has relied.”
Ensign, in his comments, noted that Nevadans had amended the state constitution to guarantee the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. Ensign emphasized the need to preserve the will of Nevadans who voted overwhelmingly to preserve marriage as well as the need to preserve the will of the majority of Americans.
“I am deeply concerned that a few unelected judges and some locally elected government officials have taken steps to redefine marriage to fit their own agenda,” said Ensign. “It is not right to mold marriage to fit the desires of a few, against the wishes of so many, and to ignore the important role of marriage.”
Yeah, good to see you uphold that sanctity, but my uncle and his partner of 15 years are somehow a threat to it.