Defender Of Marriage GOP Sen. John Ensign Admits To Cheating On His Wife

Presumed 2012 GOP presidential candidate Sen. John “Defender of Marriage” Ensign (R-NV), who has a 100% rating from the Christian Coalition, has admitted to an extramarital affair with a campaign staffer. Oh, and there’s blackmail involved too.

The news certainly damages any hope Ensign has of running for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 – he had fueled speculation about a presidential run with a recent visit to Iowa — and it may also hinder what has been a steady rise in Senate GOP leadership. Political insiders in the Senate and in Nevada told POLITICO that Ensign began an affair with a staffer several months after he separated from his wife. When Ensign reconciled with his wife, the sources said, he gave the aide a severance package and parted ways. Sometime later, a Nevada source said, Ensign met with the husband of the woman involved and had what this source described as a positive encounter. Sources said that the man subsequently asked Ensign for a substantial sum of money – at which point Ensign decided to make the affair public. In his Las Vegas press conference, Ensign declined to give specifics about the woman involved but did say she and “her husband were close friends and both of them worked for me.”

Ensign has routinely voted against the interests of LGBT people on all issues: DOMA, hate crimes, you name it. And those with long memories will recall that Ensign famously called on Bill Clinton to resign over the Monica Lewinsky affair, calling it “an embarrassment to the country,” and turning the scandal into a regular speaking point in his campaign.

UPDATE: From Sen. Ensign’s official Senate page, dated 2004.

Washington, D.C. – Senator John Ensign took to the floor of the United States Senate today to defend the sanctity of marriage and urge passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment Act.

“Marriage recognizes the ideal of a father and mother living together to raise their children,” Ensign said. “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.”

Ensign, in his comments, noted that Nevadans had amended the state constitution to guarantee the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. Ensign emphasized the need to preserve the will of Nevadans who voted overwhelmingly to preserve marriage as well as the need to preserve the will of the majority of Americans.