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Political Infidelity and Senator Ensign: Should He Resign?

Political Infidelity and Senator Ensign: Should He Resign?

On Tuesday, my state’s junior Senator, John Ensign, held a press conference in which he admitted having an extra-marital affair with former employee Cynthia Hampton.  Finding out about the infidelity of a politician is about as surprising as finding out that dogs bark. They are surrounded my money, wield significant amount of power, and are surrounded by obliging sycophants where ever they go. It’s not hard to see how well-meaning men and women living far away from their families fall into the arms of someone else.

What is always surprising, however; is that politicians continue to try and cover up their infidelity once caught.  As many times as they’ve seen their colleagues make the same mistake (John Edwards, Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, Henry Hyde, Rudy Giuliani, Larry Craig, etc.) they fall into the same trap.  Instead of learning from those who’ve gone before and coming clean immediately, they inevitably make things worse by lying. 

Nevada’s Senator John Ensign is just the latest case in point and has an entirely too cozy relationship with the Hampton family.  Here are the details.  Ensign had an affair with his employee Cynthia Hampton, the wife of another Ensign employee, Douglas Hampton.  But that’s not all.  The National Republican Senatorial Committee, headed up by Ensign, also employed Brandon Hampton, the son of Cynthia and Douglas Hampton.  Ensign reportedly decided to come forward because “…a former employee had asked Ensign for money in what both sources described as a case of “extortion.” (Fox News)

It’s unclear whether any of this is illegal, but it looks really, really, really bad.  And since extortion is a felony, claiming someone is trying to extort you is a concern for law enforcement. However, no law enforcement authorities report any investigations into the so-called extortion. And now Ensign’s staff appear to be walking away from the extortion claim by claiming Douglas Hampton had “approached a television news network about the affair.” (TPM Muckraker)

You have to wonder as Zachary Roth writes:

“Did John Ensign’s camp try to spin the announcement of his affair by smearing his girlfriend’s husband? And is it now trying to walk that back?”

I think we’re about to find out.  One this is for certain, if Ensign was hoping for this story to go away quickly, he’s very disappointed.

As a Democrat, I am no fan of Senator Ensign’s policies, but I didn’t rush to demand that he resign because he failed as a husband. However, what would 1998 Ensign react to 2009 Ensign? From ThinkProgress:

“I came to that conclusion recently, and frankly it’s because of what he put his whole Cabinet through and what he has put the country through,” Ensign said Thursday, becoming the first member of the Nevada delegation to call for Clinton to quit. “He has no credibility left.”

Or how about 2007 Ensign when discussing whether Larry Craig should resign?

“I wouldn’t put myself hopefully in that kind of position, but if I was in a position like that, that’s what I would do.” (Fox News)

Ensign is also a strong advocate of the Defense of Marriage Act:

“Marriage recognizes the ideal of a father and mother living together to raise their children. Marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded. For those who say that the Constitution is so sacred that we cannot or should not adopt the Federal Marriage Amendment, I would simply point out that marriage, and the sanctity of that institution, predates the American Constitution and the founding of our nation. Marriage, as a social institution, predates every other institution on which ordered society in America has relied.”

Who is going to protect marriage from Ensign and other politicians who cheat and then try to convince us that they know the best way to protect the “cornerstone on which our society was founded?”

We are all human, and we all make mistakes.  But people like Ensign hold themselves up as paragons of morality all the time doing exactly what they’re telling the rest of us not to.  I think most Americans have had it with the pretend piousness of policians.  Keep in mind that Ensign was embroiled in an affair that ended just days before he called for the resignation of Larry Craig.  We can hope that Republicans have finally learned their lesson about holding themselves up as the sole guardians of “family values,” but I’m not optimistic.

What was the biblical story about throwing stones?

I don’t really care if Ensign resigns.  In fact, I’d rather he be voted out by me and my fellow Nevadans, not for having an affair, but for being dishonest and unethical.  What Senator Ensign should be doing is reflecting upon what he’s asked others to do after making their own, painful mistakes.

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69 comments

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8:12AM PDT on Jun 25, 2009

maybe newt and rush should stop critizing the president and start pointing the finger at their own party members after all we are human and we mare prone to make mistakes.

6:40AM PDT on Jun 24, 2009

How sad so many people think its ok he cheated. Its not ok. Yes there are more important things other than who he is sleeping with, but this shows a persons character. Why be married at all then??? Makes ya look good to the voters I guess, but its a lie. So if they are capable of lying and cheating, who knows what else they will do. Maybe thats the problem. They NEED to be held in a higher standard. Makes you wonder where else they are dishonest. If we start expecting more from our politicians, we will GET more. Right now they are all for themselves, same principle as cheating on the wife. ME ME ME, what THEY want no matter what. Whatever makes THEM happy.

And I am sure he only "admitted" it AFTER he got caught. Right? So he didn't come forward, someone was trying to extort money and he was about to get caught. BIG difference.

10:20AM PDT on Jun 23, 2009

That is the stupidity of the American electorate. Our elected officials may lie, steal, murder with impunity. However, they dare not have sex w/ the 'wrong' partner or hold the 'wrong' spiritual belief.

What a person does when they leave the office, as long as they don't violate our law or our Constitution is none of their employers business. END OF STORY!!! We as taxpayers and voters are the employers of our elected officials. When a public official turns off the lights and walks out of the office, just like us, their time is their own, their activities are nobodys business but their own or, perhaps, their family.

A public servant should be judged, exclusively, on how well they perform their job. If revelations as to their conduct is offensive to us, their employers, we can elect to withhold our vote come the election. Not rehire them. To condemn them during their term in office is merely a distraction that interferes w/ their effectiveness as a public servant, an employee.

8:08AM PDT on Jun 22, 2009

people in positions of power do indeed have their character defects like everyone else, these people are supposed to SERVE the PEOPLE of AMERICA and they take an oath to uphold the american constituents first and foremost. Since he is in a position to be a role model, I think he should be very careful how he "recovers" his personel life, as today, these times EVERYONE is on edge and I hope he does right by all involved and relationships, personal issues? No human is immune... This world is overwhelming, mental over load. I admire his courage to announce his mistake in hurting his family and affairs of the heart? comfort, love is never bad, However evil lurks! People in these positions are also targets for predators of all types, the saying" walked in his shoes"???? How his family handles it is also important, counseling maybe? wether they stay together or not, kids are involved and feel betrayed in a way, young children don't understand chemistry, abuse, character defects, their parents are their whole life, even if THEY don't know it!

4:03PM PDT on Jun 21, 2009

One more thing unless you know all the details you should be posting on such an issue!!!! Keep your nose in your own business, cause to me that is slander, i ask you were you there???? I get it it's the party you are with this is not about party lines its values, There much more going on in your end of the field but nothing is ever held out to the media and when it is it's brushed under the table very fast. Why i ask you is this!!!!! Now what part did this women who was best friends with the Senators wife plays in this role!!! Temptation is all to strong when left alone.

3:44PM PDT on Jun 21, 2009

Stupid YES but not a reason to be taken out of office. Listen you fools Our former President lied to Congress that is a impeachable act and that is fact!!!!!! This is where the difference lies fellow citizens of America. As i stated early none of the people here in Nevada has written back to me NOT ONCE other them Mr. Ensign. And where was the leader of the Senate when Barry said not to come to Vegas!!!!! Why didn't he stand up for the people of this great state......Tuck your heads back in the sand and go to sleep please you turn my stomach.l

10:16PM PDT on Jun 20, 2009

I don't personally care what politicians do in their private lives unless it's something really serious or criminal. And I don't place adultery into either of those categories.

But I do have a real problem with any politician who is so impassioned in his promotion of the Defense of Marriage Act while, at the same time, showing in his private life how hypocritical are his actions with regard to the supposed "sanctity" of marriage. That does destroy his credibility in my book.

3:00PM PDT on Jun 20, 2009

Politicians cheat on their spouses, it's sad but true. What makes it our business, and not just their private shame and pain, is when they commit actions they don't hesitate to attack other politicians for committing, or raise money and support for causes their own private indiscretions undermine.

3:00PM PDT on Jun 20, 2009

I think the whole "oh how horrible, he had an affair and should resign" thing is stupid. As far as I am concerned, the work a politician accomplishes for the good of their constituents is what matters most. If every politician who ever had an affair resigned, there would be few left.
As far as the other, his employing the son, if it's not illegal, then so what. His constituents votes will speak on his his next re-election campaign.

Sorry, but there a far more important to fry, and focusing on issues that are none of my business, aren't one of them.

This stinks of the lowly road the Repub's go down to demoralize the Dems. Smear campaigns are a waste of time and energy.

2:57PM PDT on Jun 20, 2009

I think the whole "oh how horrible, he had an affair and should resign" thing is stupid. As far as I am concerned, the work a politician accomplishes for the good of their constituents is what matters most. If every politician who ever had an affair resigned, there would be few left.
As far as the other, his employing the son, if it's not illegal, then so what. His constituents votes will speak on his his next re-election campaign.

Sorry, but there a far more important to fry, and focusing on issues that are none of my business, aren't one of them.

This stinks of the lowly road the Repub's go down to demoralize the Dems. Smear campaigns are a waste of time and energy.

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