(CNN) - Nevada Sen. John Ensign - who voted as a congressman to impeach President Clinton for lying under oath about his extramarital affair - said Wednesday he saw no reason to resign in light of his own affair, because he had not violated any laws.
The Republican senator told the Associated Press he realized some would take issue with his vote in light of the revelations about his own personal life, but defended his position, saying he believed Clinton had committed perjury.
"But if you look at the times ... I was in the House of Representatives but basically was sitting in judgment of the president evaluating the case," he said. "I was basically a jurist at that point. I thought there was a violation of a felony."
Ensign said he had not "done anything legally wrong," while "President Clinton stood right before the American people and he lied to the American people. You remember that famous day he lied to the American people, plus the fact I thought he committed perjury. That's why I voted for the articles of impeachment."
(CNN) - A new poll suggests that only three in ten Nevada voters hold a favorable opinion of Senator John Ensign, although most don't want Ensign to resign in the wake of his confession of an extra marital affair with a former staffer. But when the poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon for the Las Vegas Journal Review, asked whether Ensign should run for re-election, less than half the respondents said they would like to see his name on the ballot again when his current term expires.
The poll indicates that 31 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Nevada's junior senator, down eight points from June survey taken immediately after Ensign's admission, and down 22 points from May.
Ensign announced on June 16 that he had had a nine-month extramarital affair with a woman who worked on his campaign staff. Ensign said the relationship ended last August. The woman's husband worked in Ensign's Senate office.
"The Mason-Dixon poll indicates that the circumstances surrounding the affair, rather than the affair itself, are what bother Nevada voters," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Only three in ten say that the fact that Ensign had an affair is a very serious matter. But twice as many feel that way when told that the affair was with his wife's best friend, and half feel the same when told that the woman in question was the wife of a top Senate aide."
(CNN) - Sen. John Ensign has no intention of resigning his seat and will run for re-election in 2012.
"I fully plan on running for reelection," the Nevada Republican told the Las Vegas Sun Monday. "I'm going to work to earn their respect back."
Ensign, who has admitted to an affair with a former campaign staffer, also told the paper he is receiving calls and e-mails from constituents encouraging him to stay in office, and said Senate leaders "on both sides" have offered their support.
He said he is being told to "(k)eep your head up. This thing will pass."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The parents of Sen. John Ensign gave a total of $96,000 to the family of Cynthia Hampton, a woman with whom the Nevada Republican had carried on an extra-marital affair, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the Nevada senator's attorney.
"In April 2008, Senator John Ensign's parents each made gifts to Doug Hampton, Cindy Hampton, and two of their children in the form of a check totaling $96,000," said Paul Coggins of Fish & Richardson, who is representing Ensign. "Each gift was limited to $12,000. The payments were made as gifts, accepted as gifts and complied with tax rules governing gifts.
"After the Senator told his parents about the affair, his parents decided to make the gifts out of concern for the well-being of long-time family friends during a difficult time. The gifts are consistent with a pattern of generosity by the Ensign family to the Hamptons and others.
None of the gifts came from campaign or official funds nor were they related to any campaign or official duties. Senator Ensign has complied with all applicable laws and Senate ethics rules."
The revelation comes one day after Doug Hampton, the husband of Ensign's former mistress, told Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston that Ensign paid Cynthia Hampton, who was also an employee of Ensign's political action committee and re-election campaign, more than $25,000 in severance when she stopped working for Ensign's political operation.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Tom Coburn - who confronted fellow Sen. John Ensign in an effort to convince him to end an extramarital affair - denied allegations Thursday he'd suggested Ensign pay off the husband of the woman he was having an affair with, telling reporters on Capitol Hill that he would not berevealing the content of his conversations with the Nevada senator:
Reporter: At no point did you suggest payments be made?
Coburn: A categorical (denial) is exactly what I just said.
Reporter: But you denied millions, did you suggest payments at all?
Coburn: I categorically deny that, period.
Reporter: But do you deny that you were there at the February 2008…
Coburn: I was there.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele dismissed recent extramarital affairs by two prominent members of his party as "old news, old school" at a GOP dinner in Indianapolis on Wednesday night.
Steele was referring to headline grabbing stories like admissions of infidelity by South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and Nevada Sen. John Ensign, and suggested he has moved on.
"That's not the generation of candidates I'm trying to groom," Steele said, according to the Indianapolis Star.
Steele said the Republican Party should get back to its small-government roots and listed Republican governors like Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Mitch Daniels of Indiana of Indiana as "laboratories for the ideas we believe in."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn was part of a group of Washington-based intermediaries that confronted fellow Sen. John Ensign in an effort to convince him to end an extra-marital affair, according to a report published on the Web site of the Las Vegas Sun.
Doug Hampton, the husband of Ensign’s former mistress, spoke publicly for the first time about the affair in an on-camera interview with Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston to be broadcast on his show on LasVegasOne.
Doug Hampton worked in Ensign’s Senate office, while his wife, Cynthia, was an employee of Ensign’s political action committee and reelection campaign.
In an effort to try to end the affair, Hampton told Ralston he reached out to a group of “intermediaries involved in a Christian fellowship home in Washington, D.C.,” the Sun reported. The group “confronted Ensign and suggested that the Hamptons needed to be given financial assistance – in the millions of dollars – to pay off their $1 million-plus mortgage and move them to a new life away from Ensign,” according to the Sun’s report.
In a statement given to CNN and the Sun, Coburn spokesman Jon Hart said the Oklahoma Republican tried to intercede to put an end to the affair.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Less than a week after admitting to an affair with a staff member, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, apologized to his Republican colleagues for his actions, which have already caused him to step down from his party leadership post and could threaten his Senate career.
"He apologized to us and his family. He said he was going to try to work to regain the confidence of his family and his colleagues," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said after the weekly Republican policy lunch in the Capitol, during which Ensign stood to speak.
On Monday night, Ensign was greeted warmly when he returned to the Senate after several days' absence dealing with the fallout from the scandal. More than a dozen senators - Republicans and Democrats - hugged him, shook his hand, or patted him on the shoulder.
"We all recognize what a painful experience this has been for him and his family and others involved. I think we just appreciated him saying how sorry he was," Cornyn said.
(CNN) - A new poll of Nevada voters suggests that Senator John Ensign's favorable rating among people in his home state is plunging since he admitted to an extramarital affair.
Thirty-nine percent of people questioned in a Las Vegas Review-Journal survey conducted by Mason Dixon Polling and Research Inc. have a positive view of Ensign. That's down 14 points from a month ago. Thirty-seven percent say they regard Ensign unfavorably, up 19 points from May.
But the poll suggests that 62 percent do not think Ensign should resign from the Senate over his admission of infidelity, with 29 percent saying he should step down.
The poll was conducted Thursday and Friday. On Tuesday Ensign announced the nine month long affair with a married campaign staffer. The senator says he and his wife have reconciled.
Ensign is not up for re-election until 2012.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A day after admitting to an extramarital affair, Nevada Sen. John Ensign has resigned his position in the Senate Republican leadership, a Senate GOP leadership source confirmed to CNN Wednesday.
Ensign was the head of the Republican Policy Committee, the fourth-ranking elected leadership position.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement saying “He’s accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized to his family and constituents. He offered, and I accepted, his resignation as chairman of the Policy Committee.”
Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, a good friend of Ensign, said the Nevadan still has a role to play in the party.
“He’s a very intelligent senator," Kyl said, adding, "John is a person of great faith. So I know this is a very, very difficult deal for he and his family."
Meanwhile Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn, who shares a house with Ensign in Washington, said time will tell what his future role in the party will be.
"He’s a bright young man and lot of people make mistakes," Coburn said.
Updated at 3:20 p.m. with comments from Sens. Kyl, Coburn.