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John Ensign

Assumed office 
January 3, 2001
Serving with Harry Reid
Preceded by Richard H. Bryan

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nevada's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 1999
Preceded by James Bilbray
Succeeded by Shelley Berkley

Born March 25, 1958 (1958-03-25) (age 51)
Roseville, California
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Darlene Ensign
Children Trevor Ensign
Siena Ensign
Michael Ensign
Residence Las Vegas, Nevada
Alma mater Oregon State University (B.S.)
Colorado State University (D.V.M.)
Occupation Veterinarian
Religion International Church of the Foursquare Gospel

John Eric Ensign (born March 25, 1958) is the junior United States Senator from Nevada, serving since January 2001. He is a member of the Republican Party and the former chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.


Early life, education, and early career

Ensign was born in Roseville, California, to Sharon Lee Cipriani and a father whose surname was Mueller; his maternal grandfather was of Italian descent.[1] Ensign claims to be one eighth (1/8) Filipino American.[2] Ensign's family moved to Nevada when he was a child. His mother remarried Michael S. Ensign, a gaming industry executive who subsequently became chairman of the board of directors of Mandalay Bay,[3] and who adopted John.

Ensign attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, becoming a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, and later graduated from the Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1981. He went on to receive his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Colorado State University in 1985 and entered veterinary practice soon after. He then became a successful businessman, opening a 24-hour animal hospital in Las Vegas. He owned two animal hospitals before entering politics.[4]

Political career


House of Representatives

In 1994, Ensign won the Republican nomination for Nevada's 1st congressional district, based in Las Vegas. He trailed four-term incumbent Democrat James Bilbray by a wide margin for most of the campaign. However, Ensign gained considerable momentum after reports surfaced that a Bilbray aide stood to make a huge profit from lands legislation sponsored by Bilbray.[5] Ensign won by 1,400 votes. He was reelected in 1996 by seven points, even as Bill Clinton carried the district by a large margin.[citation needed]

U.S. Senate

In 1998, Ensign ran for the Senate but was defeated by the Democratic incumbent, future Senate Floor Leader Harry Reid, by 428 votes.[6] See also: United States Senate election in Nevada, 1998

Ensign won a Senate seat on his second try in 2000, defeating Democratic opponent Ed Bernstein by a 55%–40% margin,[7] to succeed the retiring Democratic incumbent, Richard H. Bryan. Ensign was reelected in 2006; he defeated businessman Jack Carter.

Ensign and Reid have developed a fairly good relationship, despite their bruising 1998 contest. They frequently work together on Nevada issues.[8]

Political future

In April, Ensign was planning a June 1, 2009, trip to Iowa, the first in his career, causing speculation that he was mulling a presidential campaign in 2012.[9] Given the disclosure of his extramarital affair in mid-June, his presidential aspirations were put in limbo.[4]

On July 14, 2009, Ensign announced his plan to run for re-election to his Nevada Senate seat in 2012, even though his polling numbers have recently decreased.[10]

Committee assignments

Political positions

Animal advocacy

Ensign is considered one of the Humane Society's biggest allies in Congress.[11] Along with Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wa.), Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.), Senator Ensign—a veterinarian—was a lead sponsor of the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, which makes it a felony to transport animals across state lines for the purpose of fighting. According to a press release from Ensign's office, "Fifty states currently have laws against dogfighting and forty-nine have laws against cockfighting. This bill complements these state laws."[12]


Senator Ensign is a member of the Congressional Cuba Democracy Caucus.

Eminent domain

Ensign has become a leading voice against the Kelo v. New London Supreme Court ruling, and introduced a bill that would blunt the effects of the ruling.[13] In Kelo, the Court ruled that local governments could use eminent domain not just for public use but for any project that involves a public purpose. Specifically, the Court permitted the City of New London, CT to force a homeowner to sell her home for a parking lot for a new development of private, big box stores. The use of governmental condemnation for a private purpose caused a backlash.

Fiscal responsibility

The conservative fiscal watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste awarded Ensign a 92% lifetime rating—the fourth highest Senator after Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn and Jon Kyl—as of 2007.[14]

In 2005, Ensign introduced legislation to create a government waste commission called the Commission on the Accountability and Review of Federal Agencies. [15] The commission would compile a list of unnecessary, outdated, wasteful, or duplicative discretionary programs, and require Congress to vote up-or-down to eliminate all programs on the list. The process is much like the BRAC process Congress uses to close military bases.


In 1998, after President Bill Clinton admitted to having committed adultery with Monica Lewinsky, Ensign called on him to resign, saying, "He has no credibility left."[16]

In 2004, Ensign spoke on the Senate floor in favor of the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have barred states from recognizing same-sex marriage. 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.[17]


Ensign considers himself pro-life, and both the National Right to Life Committee and NARAL Pro-Choice America identify him as having a pro-life voting record.[18][19]

Ensign authored the Child Custody Protection Act in 2003 that prohibits taking minors across State lines in circumvention of laws requiring the involvement of parents in abortion decisions.[20]

Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

Ensign voted in support of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, which authorized the President to use the United States Armed Forces to "deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States." This is the authorizing legislation for the invasion of Afghanistan and removing the Taliban from power.[21]

Ensign also voted in support of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, which authorized the President to use the United States Armed Forces "as he determines to be necessary and appropriate" in order to "defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq."[22]

Ensign supported the counterinsurgency policy in Iraq in 2007 and opposed withdrawing troops from Iraq in 2007 and 2008.

Actions in the U.S. Senate

Chairmanship of National Republican Senatorial Committee

Ensign was elected Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). As chairman of the NRSC, Ensign was charged with assembling a staff to win back the U.S. Senate for Republicans in the 2008 elections. Ensign chose Mike Slanker and Lindsey Slanker of Nevada based political consulting firm November Inc. to be the Political Director and Finance Director of the NRSC.

Ensign often expressed pessimism about the upcoming election, stating that a good night for Republicans would be the loss of just four seats.[23] The Republicans went on to lose eight US Senate seats in the 2008 election.

Electronic fund-raising reports

In September 2007, it was discovered that Ensign had used the secret hold rule (a parliamentary procedure within the Standing Rules of the Senate that allows one or more Senators to prevent a motion from reaching a vote on the Senate floor) to prevent a bill requiring senators to file fund-raising reports electronically from being voted upon without consideration on an amendment from Ensign that would also strengthen disclosure rules.[24] Ensign’s amendment would force groups petitioning the Senate Ethics committee to disclose the identity of donors giving more than $5,000.[25]

2006 re-election campaign

Ensign faced Democrat Jack Carter, son of former President Jimmy Carter, in the November general election. Both he and Carter defeated token opposition in their August 15, 2006 primaries. Ensign defeated Carter in the general election on November 7, 2006, 55% to 41%.[26]

Personal life

Ensign is a member of the Pentecostal International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and is the only Pentecostal in the Senate. He resides at the influential C Street religious house in Washington, D.C.[27] Ensign moved out of the C Street house in November 2009, after disclosure of an extramartial affair and reports that he used his influence to pressure several parties to keep quiet about it.[28] When in Las Vegas he attends a northwest Foursquare church.[29] According to The New York Times, during college at Colorado State, he became a born-again Christian and he and his wife, Darlene, were active in the Promise Keepers, an evangelical group.[4]

He and his wife have three children.

He is a member of the Family also known as the Fellowship, described by prominent evangelical Christians as one of the most politically well-connected fundamentalist organizations in the US.[30][31]

Extramarital affair

Ensign had an extramarital affair with Cynthia Hampton, who was married to one of his top aides, and[8][32] who worked for Ensign for Senate, and for Battle Born PAC, a conservative political action committee, of which Ensign was the honorary chairman.[4] At the time of the affair, Cynthia Hampton's husband, Douglas Hampton, was a top administrative aide in Ensign’s Capitol Hill office, and Ensign and his wife had been close friends with the Hamptons before they were hired to work for Ensign. When the affair came to light in 2009, an Ensign spokesperson asserted that it had occurred between December 2007 and August 2008,[8] but Doug Hampton said that it began at Christmas 2006.[33]

In early 2008, Ensign was confronted by Douglas Hampton regarding the affair. Ensign then contacted political and corporate supporters in Nevada, seeking work for Hampton. Within the next few months, Ensign arranged for Hampton to join a political consulting firm in Nevada and lined up several corporations who had been Ensign campaign donors as lobbying clients for Hampton. Senior aides, such as Hampton, are prohibited from lobbying the Senate for a year after leaving their posts. Hampton said he and Ensign were aware of the lobbying restriction but chose to ignore it.[34]

In April 2008, Ensign's parents gave Cynthia Hampton and her family $96,000.[35] On July 9, 2009, when the payments were reported in the news, Ensign's lawyer, Paul Coggins, issued a statement on Ensign's behalf stating "The payments were made as gifts, accepted as gifts and complied with tax rules governing gifts."[36] In late 2009, Hampton told Nightline the opposite, saying it was "crystal clear" that the $96,000 was, in fact, severance and not a gift.[33]

In 2008, after Hampton began working for the political consulting firm, Ensign and his staff repeatedly contacted federal agencies, often after requests from Hampton, on behalf of the companies that were Hampton's clients. In a statement published on October 1, the date that The New York Times reported on Ensign's arrangements for Douglas Hampton, Ensign said: "I am confident we fully complied with the relevant laws and rules governing current and past employees. I have worked on these Nevada issues with these Nevada companies for years, long before Doug Hampton left my office."[34]

The progressive watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington also has asked the Senate to investigate Mr. Hampton's additional charge that Senator Ensign sexually harassed his wife, which his wife has declined to deny.[37]

Melanie Sloan, executive directory of the progressive watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told ABC that if true, the $96,000 unreported severance payoff for Mr. Hampton, Senator Ensign's actions in aiding and abetting Mr. Hampton's violation of the one-year lobbying prohibition for ex-Senate staffers, or Senator Ensign sexually harassing Cindy Hampton, would amount to felonies.[38] The Senate Ethics Committee and the Department of Justice are investigating the lobbying charges and subpoenas have been issued.[39]

On June 11, 2009, Douglas Hampton sent a letter to Megyn Kelly, a Fox News reporter,[40] in which he said that "The actions of Senator Ensign have ruined our lives and careers and left my family in shambles", and that "I need justice, help and restitution for what Senator Ensign has done to me and my family".[41] The network said it did not receive a mailed letter, but got the letter as an e-mail attachment on June 15.[42]

In a statement on June 16, 2009, Ensign admitted that he had the affair. Also on June 16, Ensign's wife issued a statement that said, in part, "Since we found out last year we have worked through the situation and we have come to a reconciliation."[4] On June 17, 2009, Ensign stepped down from his post as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, the fourth-ranking spot in the Republican party's leadership.[43]

On June 19, the date that Douglas Hampton's June 11 letter to Fox News became public news, Ensign's office issued a statement that included the charge that "Within the past month, Doug Hampton's legal counsel made exorbitant demands for cash and other financial benefits on behalf of his client." The Hamptons' attorney said that the couple was weighing how to respond to the Ensign statement.[42]

On July 8, the Las Vegas Sun reported that Douglas Hampton had spoken publicly for the first time about the affair, saying Ensign continued his affair with Cynthia Hampton even after intermediaries, including Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, tried to convince him to stop the affair and help the Hamptons pay off their home and move to Colorado.[44]

According to Mr. Hampton, Senator Coburn brokered a meeting in which "Senator Coburn said, 'What I would do, Doug, if I was you, is I would have them buy your home, give you a million bucks so you can start over, and that is what I am willing to help you negotiate,'" he said. "John said, 'No can do, not going to happen.' [Coburn] volunteered to help. He called me. And he recommended a significant number as one that he would float to the Ensigns."[38]

After initially denying it, Coburn has admitted to attempting to broker a settlement to maintain secrecy and prevent the disclosure of Ensign's affair with Ms. Hampton and his dealings with Mr. Hampton from becoming public.[38]

In January 2010, The Politico reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating possible criminal violations in connection with the affair.[45]

Electoral history

Nevada's 1st congressional district: Results 1994–1996[46]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1994 James H. Bilbray 72,333 48% John Ensign 73,769 48% Gary Wood Libertarian 6,065 4%
1996 Bob Coffin 75,081 44% John Ensign 86,472 50% Ted Gunderson Independent American 4,572 3% James Dan Libertarian 3,341 2% Richard Eidson Natural Law 3,127 2%
Senate elections in Nevada: Results 1998–2006[46]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Votes Pct
1998 Harry Reid 208,621 48% John Ensign 208,220 48% Michael Cloud Libertarian 8,129 2% Michael E. Williams Natural Law 2,781 1% None of these * 8,113 2%
2000 Ed Bernstein 238,260 40% John Ensign 330,687 55% Kathryn Rusco Green 10,286 2% J. J. Johnson Libertarian 5,395 1% None of these * 11,503 2% *
2006 Jack Carter 238,796 41% John Ensign 322,501 55% David K. Schumann Independent American 7,774 1% Brendan Trainor Libertarian 5,269 1% None of these * 8,232 1%
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2000, Independent American candidate Ernie Berghof received 2,540 votes; Citizens First candidate Bill Grutzmacher received 1,579 votes; No Vote Cast received 457 votes; and Over Vote received 69 votes.

** Nevada law since 1975 allows dissatisfied voters to vote for "None of These Candidates."


  1. ^ "Senators: Ensign". Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  2. ^ Rafael, Dan (06). "My postfight sit-in with Pacquiao" (interview article). ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 2009-05-11. ""Turns out Ensign is a huge boxing fan and one-eighth Filipino, so he was excited to meet Pacquiao and have him pose for a photo with him and his kids."" 
  3. ^ "Mandalay Details Spending, Share Buyback Program", Gambling Magazine, 2001
  4. ^ a b c d e "Senator Ensign Admits Extramarital Affair" by David M. Herszenhorn, The New York Times Caucus blog, June 16, 2009, 6:24 pm EDT. Retrieved 6/16/09.
  5. ^ Wasserman, David; Larry J. Sabato (October 5, 2006). "OCTOBER SURPRISE! (And a Leadership Demise?), Crystal Ball, U.Va.". University of Virginia Center for Politics. Retrieved 2009-06-22. "Nevada Rep. James Bilbray (D) was felled after it was revealed days before the election that his aide stood to profit millions from lands legislation he had sponsored" 
  6. ^ Nevada Secretary of State — 1998 US Senate Recount Results
  7. ^ Nevada Secretary of State — 2000 General Election Results
  8. ^ a b c Freking, Kevin (June 17, 2009), "Sen. Ensign admits affair with ex-campaign staffer", The Guardian,, retrieved 2009-11-26 
  9. ^ Chris Cillizza, "John Ensign's Unapologetic Critique", Washington Post The Fix Blog, April 23, 2009.
  10. ^ BALL, MOLLY (July 19, 2009). "New poll reveals Ensign's status sinking, But most Nevadans still say Republican senator should not resign". Las Vegas Review-Journal (Stephens Media, LLC). Retrieved July 20, 2009. 
  11. ^ Vegan in The Henhouse –
  12. ^ United States Senator John Ensign
  13. ^ United States Senator John Ensign
  14. ^ 2007 Senate Ratings Final
  15. ^ Brian M. Riedl, "An Innovative and Bold Budget Proposal in the Senate", The Heritage Foundation, October 26, 2005
  16. ^ Batt, Tony (September 11, 1998), "Ensign urges Clinton to quit", Las Vegas Review-Journal, 
  17. ^ John Ensign (July 13, 2004). "Ensign Defends Sanctity of Marriage on Senate Floor". Press release. Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  18. ^ Federal Legislation – Legislative Action Center
  19. ^ Search Results
  20. ^ 108th CONGRESS 1st Session S. 851 To amend title 18, United States Code, to prohibit taking minors across State lines in circumvention of laws requiring the involvement of parents in abortion decisions.
  21. ^ On the Joint Resolution (S.J. Res. 23 ), U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 107th Congress – 1st Session, September 14, 2001
  22. ^ On the Joint Resolution (H.J.Res. 114 ), U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 107th Congress – 2nd Session, October 11, 2002
  23. ^ Breshnahan, Josh (September 10, 2008). "GOP bristles at Ensign's 'truth'". Politico. Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  24. ^ "Let the Sun Shine In", New York Times, Sept. 27. 2007.
  25. ^ "Ensign vows to keep e-filing bill in limbo", The Hill, Sept. 28. 2007.
  26. ^ "NVSOS.GOV – Elections Results: 2006 Statewide General Election Coverage and Reports". Nevada Secretary of State. November 7, 2006. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ Morrison, Jane Ann (March 19, 2000). "Race opens for Bernstein, Ensign". Las-Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  30. ^ Belz, Emily; Pitts, Edward Lee (August 29, 2009). "All in the Family". World Magazine. Retrieved August 14, 2009. 
  31. ^ Sharlet, Jeff (2008). The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. HarperCollins. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-06-055979-3. 
  32. ^ J. Patrick Coolican and Lisa Mascaro (June 17, 2009). "Ensign’s mistress saw salary double, son was paid $5,400". Las Vegas Sun. 
  33. ^ a b "Exclusive: Doug Hampton Speaks Out on Sen. Ensign's Affair With His Wife". ABC News. November 23, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-24. 
  34. ^ a b Eric Lichtblau and Eric Lipton (October 2, 2009). "Senator’s Aid to Mistress’s Husband Raises Ethics Flags". The New York Times. 
  35. ^ Chris Cillizza (July 9, 2009). "Ensign Acknowledges Mistress Payment". Washington Post. 
  36. ^ "Statement: Ensign's parents give mistress' family $96K". CNN. July 9, 2009. Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  37. ^ STEVE TETREAULT (June 25, 2009). "Ethics panel gets complaints on Ensign". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved December 6, 2009. 
  38. ^ a b c McFadden, Cynthia, Arons, Melinda & Sher, Lauren (November 23, 2009)."Exclusive: Doug Hampton Speaks Out on Sen. Ensign's Affair With His Wife.". ABC Nightline. Retrieved on December 5, 2009.
  39. ^ Lipton, Eric (December 4, 2009). "Ethics Committee Issues Subpoenas in Ensign Inquiry." New York Times. Retrieved on December 5, 2005.
  40. ^ Jeff German and Lisa Mascaro (June 19, 2009). "Spouse in Ensign affair sought help in letter to Fox News; Husband’s account of how wife’s affair with Ensign ‘ruined our lives and careers’ comes to light". Las Vegas Sun. 
  41. ^ "Text of Doug Hampton’s letter to Fox News". Las Vegas Sun. June 19, 2009. 
  42. ^ a b Paul Kane and Howard Kurtz (June 20, 2009). "Husband of Ex-Mistress Sought Cash, Ensign Says". Washington Post. 
  43. ^ Espo, David (June 17, 2009). "Ensign quits Senate GOP leadership post". Associated Press (Yahoo). Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  44. ^ J. Patrick Coolican (July 8, 2009). "Hampton speaks publicly, says Ensign paid severance". Las Vegas Sun. 
  45. ^ Raju, Manu; John Bresnahan (January 19, 2010). "FBI gets involved in John Ensign affair". The Politico. Retrieved 2010-01-20. 
  46. ^ a b "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
James Bilbray
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nevada's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Shelley Berkley
United States Senate
Preceded by
Richard Bryan
United States Senator (Class 1) from Nevada
2001 – present
Served alongside: Harry Reid
Party political offices
Preceded by
Elizabeth Dole
Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
Succeeded by
John Cornyn
Preceded by
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee
Succeeded by
John Thune
United States order of precedence
Preceded by
Debbie Stabenow
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Maria Cantwell


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

John Ensign

John Ensign (born 25 March 1958) is a United States Senator from Nevada.


  • He has no credibility left.
    • Urging President Bill Clinton to resign after he admitted an extramarital affair, as quoted in Las Vegas Sun (28 September 1998).

Quotes about Ensign

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

John Eric Ensign (born March 25, 1958 in Roseville, California, United States) is the junior United States Senator from Nevada. He has served since 2001. He is of Italian and Filipino descent.


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