Ensign gives farewell speech
May 2nd, 2011
07:21 PM ET
11 years ago

Ensign gives farewell speech

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.

Filed under: John Ensign • Nevada • Senate
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. LacrosseMom(real one)

    Another "holier-than-thou-family-values" GOP/Tea falls.

    May 2, 2011 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  2. Aaron

    He and Larry Craig should set up a store in an airport. They could have alot of fun together working the airport restrooms.

    May 2, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  3. Voice of Reason

    Another philandering Republican knocked off his high horse and forced to eat his words. Is anyone surprised by this nonsensical broken record anymore?

    May 2, 2011 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  4. B

    One less concern in Congress. How many others hiding in the shadows there?

    May 2, 2011 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  5. Marie MD

    You can't handle the truth. If you don't know that you have turned, or your true self is finally coming out, into a liar and cheater you might have bigger problems than not having a support system.
    Paying off your mistresses husband is right up there with those family values the party of hell no seems to lack but they sure as heck talk a lot about it. Airport men's bathrooms anyone?

    May 2, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    Who cares. He's just ONE of the fornicating republicans. When will Vitter quit?

    May 2, 2011 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  7. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    What was he thinking? Has anyone checked what he has said in the past about being moral? That would be an interest thing to check on because of this. Too many of these people claim to hold family values so dear and then do this... Sicking to me.

    May 2, 2011 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  8. Sgt Schultz

    Good luck! Not only is this a prime example of how the Republican Party LOVES Lobbyists. Ensign literally slept with the Lobbyist. No free love for Ensign. His family cut a check for $100,000 in hush money and he had to resign under disgrace.
    The Senate love affair with Lobbyists is out of control...shame on the Republicans hustlers. Dem's need to drain their swamp too.

    May 3, 2011 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  9. thomas

    Hit the road Jack !
    $100,000 his parents gave to the aid ? It was 94,000 , who received the 6,000 ?
    Isn't sigfred and Roy looking for a new partner to dance with lions ?

    May 3, 2011 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  10. BeverlyNC

    He should not have been allowed a speech and should have had his Senate healthcare and pension taken away from him for his blatant ethics and criminal violations.
    Republicans seem to think facts, honor, character, integrity, and marriage vows are optional. They are expert liars but not a leader among them. They are an embarrassment.

    ALL Democrats in 2012 so we can finally have them out of the way and get back to work for the PEOPLE!

    May 3, 2011 02:47 am at 2:47 am |

    Another C street preacher goes down. Ensign got caught up in the snuggies not the hype. Wingnuts will still love him when he mentions God.

    May 3, 2011 06:15 am at 6:15 am |