Senator Ensign to Resign Amid Inquiry
Senator John Ensign of Nevada, who had already announced that he would not run for re-election in 2012, is planning to resign, he said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon. Mr. Ensign, a Republican, had been caught up in a sex scandal and an ethics inquiry stemming from his admission in 2009 that he had had an affair with the wife of a top aide (see a timeline of the scandal).
Hmmmm! Given the old boys' club nature of the Senate, which made me think that an "ethics inquiry" would be dropped upon hearing that the person involved would not run for reelection, I can only think that must have been some other shoe that was getting ready to drop.
Republican Party operatives said Mr. Ensign’s decision, effective May 3, would open the door for Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada to appoint a Republican to fill out the remainder of Mr. Ensign’s term, thereby increasing the chances that the party could hold onto what may be a hotly contested seat next year. One likely candidate is Representative Dean Heller, a Republican House member already running for the job, giving Mr. Heller a possible leg up for a full term.
While party insiders said there was no guarantee that Mr. Heller would get the appointment, if he did get it he would be in position to essentially run as an incumbent in 2012 and while skirting some of the politically charged votes likely to occur in the Republican-controlled House over the coming months.
So, Family Values™ and Political Courage®, all in one Tale of Your New Republican Majority!
(Here is another version of the story, if you don't like to wrestle with the NYT's paywall. However, don't miss the timeline linked from within the blockquote if you're able to get to it. It's mighty sordid! (Though not all that sexy.))
UPDATE: Looks like there's a chance this might not be the last we hear about this:
Ensign Resigns, But Details of Ethics Probe May Yet Emerge
The Senate Ethics Committee will now have to decide if it wants to make public any of the evidence it turned up in a year and a half spent investigating the aftermath of an affair Mr. Ensign had with the wife of a former top aide, Douglas Hampton.
The committee chairwoman, Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, and its ranking Republican, Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, issued a statement late Thursday indicating that their work in fact is not yet finished. That suggests that the public might again hear from the panel.
“The Senate Ethics Committee has worked diligently for 22 months on this matter and will complete its work in a timely fashion,” the statement said. “Senator Ensign has made the appropriate decision.”
Mr. Ensign himself, in his resignation statement, made clear that he knew some kind of action was about to take place by the Senate Ethics Committee that would only open him up to more scrutiny. That could have included specific charges and possibly a public trial on those charges.