(CNN) - Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada Tuesday admitted an extramarital affair with a woman who had worked for him.
Ensign would not identify the woman, but said both she and her husband had been "close friends." Her husband, he said, also worked for him.
"Last year I had an affair," the senator told reporters outside his office in Las Vegas. "I violated the vows of marriage. It's absolutely the worse thing I've done in my life."
"I take full responsibility for my actions. I know I have deeply hurt and disappointed my wife Darlene, my children, my family, friends, my staff and those who believed in me. And to all of them, especially my wife, I'm truly sorry."
The senator's office also released a statement from Ensign's wife, saying, "Since we found out last year we have worked through the situation and we have come to a reconciliation. This has been difficult on both families. With the help of our family and close friends our marriage has become stronger. I love my husband."
Ensign's spokesman, Tory Mazzola, told CNN that Ensign and a campaign staff member carried on the affair from December 2007 through August 2008. Her husband was an official Senate staff member for the senator.
Neither remained in Ensign's employ as of May 2008.
Updated: 7:29 p.m.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A well-publicized trip by a GOP senator to Iowa can only mean one thing: it's time to add another name to the list of Republicans thinking about challenging President Obama in 2012.
Not that any presidential hopeful would admit to it yet.
Tonight, though, Nevada senator John Ensign will speak to an audience in Sioux City as part of a lecture series put on by the American Future Fund, a conservative group conventiently located in Des Moines, the capital of the state with perhaps the most influential role in the presidential nominating process. Not a bad place to make friends if you have ambitions beyond the U.S. Senate.
The group certainly didn't hurt Ensign's reputation among Iowa Republicans by hyping his visit with a radio ad calling him "a rising star in the conservative movement." The location of Ensign's speech is also illuminating: Sioux City is in the western part of the state, a Republican stronghold.
Although "Ensign" isn't exactly a household name, the Nevada senator has not been shy about raising his profile since last November. He has been among the Obama's administration's toughest critics in a party searching for its next generation of leaders. After President Obama was photographed shaking hands and smiling with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Ensign told CNN's "State of the Union" that the president was being "irresponsible" by "laughing and joking" with Chavez.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Sen. John Ensign vowed Sunday that his party will make sure newly-minted Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter loses his re-election bid in 2010.
"I know as Republicans that we have some great candidates that we're recruiting out there," Ensign said on Fox News Sunday. "And we want to make sure that Arlen Specter is no longer in the United States Senate after the next election. We're going to work very hard to make sure that happens."