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Ensign acknowledges extramarital affair

It is the worst thing I have done in my life,’ Ensign says; couple identified

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Tiffany Brown

Sen. John Ensign holds a press conference announcing his affair with a staff member at the Lloyd George Federal Building in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Updated Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | 8:27 p.m.

Ensign Admits Affair

U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., acknowledged an extramarital affair with a campaign staff member Tuesday afternoon at the Lloyd George Federal Building in Las Vegas.

Sen. John Ensign admits affair

Sen. John Ensign holds a press conference announcing his affair with a staff member at the Lloyd George Federal Building in Las Vegas on Tuesday. Launch slideshow »

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  • Sen. John Ensign read a statement about his extramarital affair with a member of his campaign staff at a press conference on Tuesday, June 16, 2009.
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Sen. John Ensign, with his wife, Darlene, and their children, speaks to supporters during a Republican party at the Red Rock Resort on Nov. 7, 2006.

Beyond the Sun

Sen. John Ensign today acknowledged an extramarital affair with a member of his campaign staff.

The affair took place between December 2007 and August 2008 with a campaign staffer who was married to an employee in Ensign's Senate office. Neither have worked for the senator since May 2008.

The former employees are Douglas and Cynthia Hampton. A timeline provided by Ensign's office matches up with Federal Election Commission records reviewed by the Las Vegas Sun, and several Republican sources say the Hamptons are indeed the couple who worked in Ensign's office.

Ensign read a brief prepared statement Tuesday afternoon at the Lloyd George Federal Building in downtown Las Vegas in which he expressed regret and took no questions.

"I came back home to Nevada to come forward to explain to the citizens of our state something I was involved in about a year ago. Last year I had an affair. I violated the vows of our marriage. It is absolutely the worst thing I have ever done in my life," Ensign said.

Ensign said he sought and received forgiveness from his wife and the couple had gone to counseling. He said he still committed to serving the people of Nevada.

"I take full responsibility for my actions," he said in Las Vegas this afternoon. "I know I have deeply hurt and disappointed my wife, Darlene, my children, my family, my friends, my staff and all of those who believed in me."

Ensign didn't name the woman. After saying the affair was with a staff member, he called the two "close friends" and said the affair caused deep pain to both families.

Ensign did not participate earlier Tuesday in a vote concerning the ailing travel industry, an unusual absence considering the topic's relevance in his home state.

Ensign's wife, Darlene, released a statement about the affair to the Associated Press.

"Since we found out last year we have worked through the situation and we have come to a reconciliation. This has been difficult on both families. With the help of our family and close friends our marriage has become stronger," Mrs. Ensign said.

Ensign, elected to the Senate in 2000, is a rising star in Republican politics, having made a trip to Iowa earlier this month to test presidential waters.

Ensign was first elected to the Senate in 2000 and has been an influential conservative voice within that chamber. Last year, his GOP colleagues picked him to serve as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, moving him to the No. 4 position in leadership. The committee coordinates the GOP's legislative efforts in the Senate.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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The following statement was released Tuesday by Sen. John Ensign:

“I came home to Nevada to come forward and explain to the citizens of our state something that I was involved in about a year ago. Last year I had an affair. I violated the vows of my marriage. It is the worst thing I have ever done in my life. If there was ever anything in my life that I could take back, this would be it.

“I take full responsibility for my actions.

“I know that I have deeply hurt and disappointed my wife Darlene, my children, my family, my friends, my staff and others who believed in me. To all of them, especially my wife, I am deeply sorry. I am truly blessed to have a wife who has forgiven me. We sought counseling last year and have built a stronger marriage -- stronger than ever.

“I will not mention any names but the woman who I was involved with and her husband were close friends and both of them worked for me. Our families were close. That closeness put me into situations which led to my inappropriate behavior. We caused deep pain to both families and for that I am sorry.

“I am committed to my service in the United States Senate and my work on behalf of the people of NV.

“Thank you.”

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