Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009 | 2:08 a.m.
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., embarked on an apology tour last week, starting in Fernley in front of a friendly Northern Nevada crowd.
Speaking publicly for the first time since he admitted to an affair with a woman who was then a campaign aide, Ensign said he wanted to apologize for his actions, adding that he wanted to work to restore the people’s trust in him.
That will be difficult. Ensign first has to overcome his own hypocrisy. He is an evangelical Christian and Promise Keeper who has touted the sanctity of marriage. As a member of the House of Representatives in 1998, Ensign called on President Bill Clinton to resign over the president’s dalliance with an intern, saying the president had lost credibility.
Asked last week how his situation was different from Clinton’s, Ensign said he hadn’t done “anything legally wrong.” Clinton, however, was never convicted of a crime, so how does that make Ensign morally superior?
Morally, Ensign’s actions are repugnant. He had an affair with campaign aide Cynthia Hampton, who happened to be the best friend of Ensign’s wife. She was also the wife of Ensign’s chief of staff.
Where is the moral virtue in that?
Aside from the moral issue, there are still serious questions about whether Ensign broke any federal laws or Senate rules. For example:
• How does he explain the $96,000 in “gifts” his parents gave to her and her family after the affair ended? Were they legal?
• Did he give severance packages to the Hamptons when he fired them? Were those payments legal?
• What about questions of sexual harassment or wrongful termination? What about the promotions and raises he gave her or the job he handed her son?
These are just some of the questions Ensign has refused to answer, and that adds to his hypocrisy. He wanted more out of Clinton. In May 1998 Ensign complained that Clinton was “obstructing the process,” before adding, “I would just like the truth to come out.”
So would Nevadans, Senator. Instead of hiding behind the hypocritical “I’m sorry” tour, Ensign should tell Nevadans the whole truth.