Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., apologized to his colleagues in the U.S. Senate for what he called his arrogance and belief in his own importance.

Ensign, once a rising Republican star, is officially leaving Congress today under a cloud stemming from his extramarital affair with Cynthia Hampton, a former aide.

“Unfortunately, I was blind about how arrogant and self-centered I had become,” Ensign said. “My urge to believe in my own self-importance was stronger than the power to fight it.”

His resignation ends a nearly two-year saga that began with the admission that he had an affair with Hampton, once a close friend of his wife, Darlene. The Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee investigated Ensign, including $96,000 paid to Hampton and her husband by his parents. Although prosecutors did not charge Ensign with a crime, the ethics panel is expected to release what is anticipated to be a scathing report on the Nevada lawmaker’s actions.

U.S. Rep. Dean Heller has been appointed by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval to replace Ensign in the Senate.

In an extraordinary admission, Ensign said he was wrong to judge his former colleagues and fellow Republicans Larry Craig and Ted Stevens when they were going through scandals of their own. At the time, Ensign was chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and had called for both to resign from the U.S. Senate.

“It was a hard lesson to learn,” Ensign said. “I hope I now show mercy to people who come into my life who truly need it.”

Ensign gave thanks to his home-state colleague and former rival, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and to his staff and family, especially his wife, Darlene.

“I do not deserve a woman like her, but I love her and I am grateful the Lord has put her in my life,” Ensign said.

  1. […] Sen. John Ensigns last Senate Floor speech. (5-2-2011) ( […]

  2. […] Sen. John Ensigns last Senate Floor speech. (5-2-2011) ( […]

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