The Ensign affair: Time to repent, not to quit |

The Ensign affair: Time to repent, not to quit

The Nevada Appeal Editorial Board

Politicians are no different than the average Joe, unless that Joe does some plumbing work on the side.

Nevada Sen. John Ensign wishes he had a plumber to stop the leak coming from his personal life after he revealed last week an extramarital affair with a staffer.

Sex scandals rock the political arena about once every six months, so it is no surprise that another politician came forward to admit his sins and ask for forgiveness. But we didn’t expect the next politician to be coming from our own backyard.

From December 2007 to August 2008, Nevada’s junior senator conducted an affair with one of his campaign aides, Cindy Hampton. During that time, her salary rose, and the senator – so nice of him – found a job on his staff for her 19-year-old son. Furthermore, Doug Hampton, the odd man out in this romantic liaison, also worked for the senator.

The affair came to light after Doug Hampton’s lawyer made an “exorbitant demand for cash and other financial benefits.”

It took this “request” to force the senator to come clean and tell his constituents that this was the worst mistake he had ever made. At least Ensign didn’t drag his wife and three children in front of the cameras when he saw the light.

Senator, we don’t need to tell you that this is another black eye on Nevada. First, we have a still-legally married governor seeing other women; now, you are forced to tell of your liaison. There is no excuse.

We are not calling for your resignation because you still have much to offer to Nevada’s citizens. Of course, if sordid details ever came out that taxpayer money was used to give Hampton a raise or hire a son to keep the Hampton family quiet, then we, along with the 62 percent of those who still favor you, would need to reassess.

When this news first became public, we wondered what was worse: Having the affair or being a hypocrite. You chided fellow Senators David Vitter and Larry Craig for their indiscretions. And 11 years ago you had harsh words for President Bill Clinton and his affair in the Oval Office with Monica Lewinsky.

Now, your words are coming back to haunt you. Senator, you have two relationships to mend: First and foremost, repair your marriage. Second, repair your trust and relationship with the citizens of Nevada who deserve a senator fighting for them.

• This editorial originated in the Lahontan Valley News.