Senator John Ensign of Nevada has admitted to an extramarital affair with married campaign staff employee Cynthia Hampton. According to Associated Press, John Ensign and Cynthia Hampton were involved in a “consensual affair” from December 2007 through August 2008.
Sen. Ensign told reporters that he was deeply sorry and that he took full responsibility for his actions. It is unclear why he chose to come clean at this time, but there are suggestions that Cynthia Hampton’s husband had blackmailed John Ensign with hush money. Although Ensign’s wife Darlene was not present at the interview, the Nevada senator explained that she had forgiven him and that they had reconciled. He believes that this affair strengthened their marriage in the end.
John Ensign has also stepped down from his position as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. He, however, plans to continue serving in the Senate. Still, any presidential aspirations for 2012 may have been significantly derailed by his affair with Cynthia Hampton.
Sen. John Ensign Admits Affair with Cynthia Hampton: Life and Career
John Ensign is a native of California. He is of Italian descent and claims to be 1/8 Filipino. After completing his education, he moved to Nevada where he became a veterinarian. In 1994, he was elected to the House of Representatives, representing Nevada’s 1st congressional district. John Ensign was elected to the Senate in 2000 where he continues to serve alongside Harry Reid.
John Ensign’s voting record is solidly Republican. He has a 92 percent lifetime rating from the Citizens Against Government Waste, a pro-life voting record, and has supported the war efforts in both Afghanistan and Iraq. One departure from his Republican voting record occurred in 2007 when he co-sponsored the Animal Fight Prohibition Enforcement Act with Democratic senators Maria Cantwell, Arlen Specter, and Dianne Feinstein which made it illegal to transport dogs across state lines for organized fights. His background as a veterinarian contributed to his support of the bill.
Sen. John Ensign Admits Affair with Cynthia Hampton: Politicians and Extramarital Affairs
It remains to be seen whether or not John Ensign will politically survive this affair with Cynthia Hampton. Bill Clinton is one of the few American public figures to survive a sex scandal. Although Bill Clinton was impeached, it was for lying under oath, not for the affair itself. He left office with a high approval rating. If anyone was politically harmed by the Lewinsky case, it was Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, rather than Bill himself.
Newt Gingrich has been married three times and has had extramarital affairs. While married to Marianne Ginther, Gingrich was having an extramarital affair with Callista Bisek. In 1998, Gingrich was eventually pushed out of office by members of his own party, not for his extramarital affairs, but because he was seen as a polarizing political figure. Yet some conservatives have expressed hope for a Gingrich presidential run in 2012.
For others, extramarital affairs can end a political career, as seen with John Edwards and Florida Representative Tim Mahoney. For now, John Ensign retains his senate seat. Whether or not he survives the affair with Cynthia Hampton will depend on his future conduct both in the senate and in his marriage.
Ensign quits Senate GOP leadership post, David Espo, Associated Press