Washington (CNN) – Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, gave his last Senate floor speech on Monday, addressing his “personal failures” and passing on some final words of wisdom to his Senate colleagues.
Speaking from the floor of the Senate chamber, Ensign admitted to getting “caught up in the hype.”
“Oftentimes, the more power and prestige a person achieves, the more arrogant a person can become. As easy as it was for me to view this in other people, unfortunately, I was blind to how arrogant and self-centered that I had become,” Ensign said. “This is how dangerous the feeling of power and adulation can be.”
Ensign is resigning after he admitted having an affair with the wife of one of his former top aides. Ethics investigators have been looking into Ensign’s efforts to help arrange lobbying work for the aide, as well as the circumstances behind a check for nearly $100,000 his parents gave to the aide.
The junior senator from Nevada advised his colleagues to surround themselves with true friends.
“My caution to all of my colleagues is to surround yourself with people who will be honest with you about how you really are and what you are becoming,” said Ensign. “And then make them promise to not hold back, no matter how much you may try to prevent them, from telling you the truth. I wish that I had done this sooner, but this is one of the hardest lessons that I’ve had to learn.”
Near the end of his speech, he apologized to his wife Darlene for his “actions,” as he put it, and also apologized to his former Senate colleagues Larry Craig of Idaho and the now-deceased Ted Stevens of Alaska.
Ensign was chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee when the two former senators were going through their own personal scandals.
“Following Larry's admission and Ted's guilty verdict, I, too, believed in the power of my leadership position and I called on both of them to resign,” recalled Ensign. “I sincerely struggled with these decisions afterward, so much so that I went to each of them a few weeks afterward and admitted what I did was wrong and I asked both of them for forgiveness. Each of these men were gracious enough to forgive me, even though publicly I did not show them the same grace.”
Had Ensign not resigned, he would likely have been forced to go through a public ethics hearing about the affair and his conduct.