Devastated Ensign resigns amid $96,000 affair

by Brody Burns

Melodie Lapot / Staff Artist
Melodie Lapot / Staff Artist
Nevada Sen. John Ensign wouldn’t be a good wingman, a good friend or even a half-decent employee. Today, he will be leaving the U.S. Senate, about 1.5 years before reelection because of a debilitating ethics investigation. The investigation is centered on his extramarital affair with the wife of a former staff member, and the subsequent payment made by his parents to make amends for his actions, all while lying to the public.

No, this is not a script from “The Hills;” this is reality. A U.S. senator, who happens to be in his 50s, actually went to the bank of mommy and daddy to cut a check for $96,000 to pay off his egregious mistakes. He then promptly chastised the public for attempting to uncover any wrongdoing. The great Ensign is apparently above reproach.

His scandal is the latest in a strain of unchecked congressional behavior violations, which breach public trust, exploit the power of political office and continue to tarnish the putrid reputation of politicians. At this point, I think their approval rating falls somewhere between serial killers and NFL owners. The basis behind his resignation is that he has endured enough. The investigation into his own wrongdoing has become too much of a burden and too emotionally taxing to continue serving as an elected official. News flash, Ensign — it’s entirely your fault. Here is Ensign attempting to pathetically rationalize his resignation:

“While I stand behind my firm belief that I have not violated any law, rule or standard of conduct of the Senate, and I have fought to prove this publicly, I will not continue to subject my family, my constituents, or the Senate to any further rounds of investigation, depositions, drawn-out proceedings or especially public hearings.”

Ensign, behind the gift of strategic public relations, has repositioned himself as the victim of the situation. Despite the fact he himself had the extramarital affair, he himself paid hush money to the real victim’s family, he himself deceived the public about it and he himself put his own family through the entire ordeal, he feels he is the only one suffering. According to his statement, Ensign cannot subject his family to anymore of the investigation, only the cheating, lying and the subsequent humiliation of his adulterous behavior.

Shockingly, he also claims no violation of “law, rule, or standard of conduct” occurred through his abhorrent behavior. If sleeping with a staffer’s wife, lying about it and subsequently buying her silence are not violations, then what constitutes rule breaking? In the Code of Ethics for Government Service, Ensign clearly violated rule No. 9, which aims to expose corruption at any opportunity. He also violated No. 5 by extending unfair favors and privileges in monetary form. Even rule No. 1 of the code states, “Put loyalty to the highest moral principles and to country above loyalty to Government persons, party, or department.” If no violation occurred and these are his true moral principles, then humanity may be doomed.

The most interesting element of his statement is his pseudo-altruism, as he is not willing to subject the public to any more hearings or depositions. It appears he is truly afraid of what else would be exposed. Being held accountable for one’s actions is a basis of ethics, and facing the scorn of the public accompanies working in the public eye. But Ensign claims to be so devastated that any further action would be too much to bear. In reality, the emotion, regret and depression he is feeling is only because of the realization he is about lose a massive amount of power. He is beginning to understand his relevance is fading and the world will continue without Ensign in the public eye. At the end of the day, this is all self-inflicted. The outcome of his actions are entirely his fault. Holding him accountable would be prudent.

In another development, both the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Election Committee quickly dropped cases against Ensign. Turns out, Ensign is above reproach. I’m pretty sure Judge Judy could preside over this one. At the very least, he should make a statement apologizing to every resident of Nevada. Elected officials must be held to a much higher standard. Behavior such as betraying your constituents mid-term for personal reasons stemming from a sex scandal should equate to failure to do one’s job, and harsh punishment should follow. Now that he’s unemployed, some final advice regarding Ensign: Do not hire him, unless you don’t care about ethics, job performance or having to deal with a massive crybaby ego. Plus, he’ll probably just quit on you.

Brody Burns is seeking a masters in business administration.

—The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.