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December 22, 2014

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Fellow Republicans call for John Ensign’s resignation

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Sen. John Ensign listens to a speech during a Lincoln Day dinner in Fallon Saturday, February 20, 2010.

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Sen. John Ensign has become further politically isolated this week, with two fellow Republicans calling on him to resign and Rep. Dean Heller, another Republican, stopping just short of doing so.

Last year Ensign admitted to an affair with the wife of his best friend, Doug Hampton, who was also his co-chief of staff. Cynthia Hampton had been his campaign treasurer.

Federal authorities and the Senate Ethics Committee are trying to determine if Ensign leaned on local businesses to hire Hampton. Hampton would eventually be hired as a lobbyist by Ensign's chief political adviser; Ensign allegedly helped them find clients.

Authorities are also examining whether Ensign improperly encouraged Hampton to a lobby Ensign and his staff, since ethics laws don't allow lobbying members or their staffs for one year after leaving Capitol Hill.

Sun columnist Jon Ralston reported this week that investigators are also interested in whether Ensign sought to improperly hide a $96,000 payment from his parents to the Hampton family.

On "Nevada Newsmakers," Heller said Ensign is "wounded" and could be a drag on his party.

Richard Scotti and Swadeep Nigam, two former Clark County Republican officials, called for Ensign to resign.

"We are on the verge of great victory come November, but the most long-awaited victory can quickly slip through our grasp unless we immediately put the focus back on conservative issues," they wrote on the blog Nevada News & Views. "We call on all true conservative Republican leaders and activists to speak out now for the resignation of Senator Ensign."

Ensign has previously said he did nothing illegal or unethical and last week his office sent a statement to the Las Vegas Sun.

“Sen. Ensign remains focused on the job that he was elected to do at the urging of Nevadans from across the state. He continues to work on those issues that are most important to Nevadans such as strengthening our economy by creating jobs, reining in our national debt and enacting real health care reform.”

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