Wednesday, July 22, 2009 | 6:15 p.m.
John Lopez, Sen. John Ensign's chief of staff, is leaving the senator's employ, as first reported by Sun columnist Jon Ralston.
Lopez is described by Republican insiders as a talented staffer, particularly adept at securing appropriations for Nevada.
Lopez is a long time aide to Ensign, with him since the 1990s.
Ensign is enduring considerable duress, following revelations that he had an affair with Cynthia Hampton, a woman on his campaign staff, whose husband Doug Hampton was also former senior aide.
Also, the senator acknowledged that his parents, who are very wealthy after selling shares in casino companies, had paid the Hamptons nearly $100,000 in gifts.
Republican sources say the loss of Lopez is a bad sign for Ensign as he tries to save his political career.