June 17th, 2009
03:20 PM ET
14 years ago

Sen. John Ensign resigns GOP leadership post

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/16/art.ensignfrown0616.gi.jpg caption="Sen. John Ensign Wednesday resigned his position in the Senate Republican leadership."]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.

Filed under: John Ensign
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. Scott

    Every one makes mistakes. Now let's hope the American public is more forgiving; and shows more grace and mercy than Republicans usually do, eh John...

    June 17, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  2. Jerk


    Another self righteous republican scandalized, who would have thunk it??

    June 17, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. David S. Robins

    Ensign is just another dishonest Republican scumbag like Gingrich, Livingston and Mark Foley. He should resign from the Senate now.

    June 17, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  4. FredinVa

    So CNN spends the ink to talk about Ensign's affair but I haven't seen anything about the firing of Walpin, the IG who was investigating fraud against the agency that Michelle Obama's chief of staff is overseeing. A politician who has an affair should be of little concern to Dems as they have adopted this as appropriate behavior. But news of potential abuse of power was only news when Bush fired 11 AGs who worked at his discretion while the removal of an IG is supposed to go through Congress and the IG to be given 30 days notice. Go figure.

    June 17, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. nom deplume, esq.

    Too bad he wasn't a democrat; then it would be a job qualification.

    June 17, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. It good to forgive, just as Christ forgive all mankind by dying on the cross for our sins

    It is certian that what we do in secret (the dark) will come to light. This light is God. God knows all and sees all. We can not hide from his wrath..we are his creation. God knows us, just as we know our own children. We just haven't excepted that truth.

    God also forgives those who earnestly seek him and truly confess from the heart concerning their sin. If God forgives, then we must do the same.

    June 17, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  7. David

    Karma is a Wonderful thing. Republicans have been rapidly self-destructing for the past two years. The hate they spread seems to manifest in their own personal lives.

    I wonder if it has anything to do with the GOP recently turning the five pointed stars from the American flag, upside down on their logo.

    June 17, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  8. RepubliKLANs Are Stupid As Stupid Does

    This dimwit GOP Ensign senator need to take it a step further and resign from the senate!!!!! – his values of cheating on his wife and destroying the family lives of his campaign staff clearly does NOT represents the moral & family values the GOP supposedly "stands" for!

    June 17, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  9. Judi Baller

    Well well, another Republican hypocrite. Will wonders never cease.

    June 17, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. Tony

    I think this is an honorable move. Of course you will not find a Dem in leadership that would have taken this route. He did wromng. Admited it. Reconciled and now believes he should resign his post.


    The Dems have none.

    June 17, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  11. Kyle, INDIANA

    This Senator is a mouth piece for GOP lying and cheating. He has denounced Clinton and gay marriage while pretending he had the moral authority to do so. The conservative movement is dead.

    June 17, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. Rich in Seattle

    He needs to resign period. Where are the Republicans coming out against this guy? Don't they value marriage? Or are they keeping silent because they put party first over their own values?

    The longer he stays in office, the more hypricritical the Republicans are.

    June 17, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. Yossi Gestetner

    In defense of the Senator from Nevada, let me say this:

    according to reports, he was separated from his wife at the time of the affair. Is it Kosher from a religious standpoint? Certainly not. However, Senators are not our Church elders, and Ensign's act is therefore a far-cry of other REAL extramarital scandals we had in politics through the years, (mainly on the Democrat side).

    From an entertaining standpoint, am taking the side of Ross Geller vs the Rachel Green in the reality show FRIENDS: they were on a break, and case closed. or as Ross would say: I WAS ON A BREAK!!!

    June 17, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  14. sarah

    I'm sure that he was either a deacon in his church, founder of a spin-off of Focus on the Family, or a fierce defender of "traditional marriage" or something similar – they always are. This is how they deflect criticism and attempt to elevate themselves in the eyes of God and the public, but HYPOCRISY shines brighter than a New Years ball at Times Square and I am glad to see this Charlatan outed.

    June 17, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. Jefe

    Any elected person caught in an extramarital affair should step down from their office entirely. If you can't be trusted to not cheat on your spouse, you certainly can't be trusted with our tax dollars or lives. Even though the extreme lack of family values is primarily a Republican problem, we've seen it on both sides. We need to sweep these amoral scumbags as far out of D.C. as possible.

    June 17, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  16. Glenn Doty

    Will he resign as a senator?

    The GOP is really big on the idea that a person should not be in government if they had an affair... so will Ensign continue to represent the people of Nevada?

    (It wouldn't even matter for the vote count, since Nevada has a republican governor, and would appoint a republican replacement).

    June 17, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  17. Rob

    Now if he was a Dem he would've have actually been give the leadership of an additional post.

    Sadly though Sen. Ensign did not follow the John Edwards playbook.

    June 17, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  18. louiedog

    Ok John...Time to pack up and move back to Las Vegas....You still might get your old job back at McDonald's, But you will have to work your way back up to head "flipper"....That spot is taken..

    June 17, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  19. Royster

    Funny how the words 'he accepted responsibility for his actions' elicits full forgiveness from the GOP....yet if a Democrat says the same words, no forgiveness from the GOP.
    It is OK if Letterman makes a joke about THIS???

    June 17, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. jrzshor

    having a affair is deemed bad, but running the country into the ground is OK?

    June 17, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  21. shane

    And if this Was a democrat senator the extremists from fox news and( rush fatbaugh)would be all over it

    June 17, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  22. demwit

    Why apologize? Everyones doing it so there must be a biological reason for it.., right??

    June 17, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  23. Peter

    Will he please resign?

    June 17, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. Mary

    Wow! you must be kidding. Not the Republicans. This is what the Democrats do. I am so sadden, because we have morals and convictions when it comes to family and marriage vows. Why would he ever cheat. What about his family? I feel for his wife.

    June 17, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. RJ- GA.

    Just another Republican getting caught ! I at least give him credit for owning up to making a mistake. I wish more in his party would fess up to only supporting Big business and not the American citizens who were miss led into thinking they would be working for them !!!

    June 17, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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