I've heard references to "Senator Resign" from a few talking heads today and I've thought, well, isn't that a bit harsh. You can't call for the resignation of a man simply because he lacks common sense and is an unabashed hypocrite, but the more this story behind Ensign's affair unravels, the more I understand why people are calling for his resignation.
Chris Cillizza of The Fix is reporting on just who was giving money to Senator John Ensign's (R-Nevada) mistress--his parents. No, I am not making this up. The story that began as a rather simple and common 'I cheated on my wife' scenario has morphed into something almost as insane as what comes out of Governor Mark Sanford's (R-South Carolina) mouth every time he opens it. In the past weeks we've learned that not only did Mr. Family Values cheat on his wife, his mistress and her husband were friends of the senator's family and were involved in his campaign. As if those details weren't enough, we've also learned that the husband of Ensign's mistress was attempting to extort millions of dollars from Ensign and the son of this couple was employed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee at the urging of Ensign while he was chairman of the NRSC.
According to The Fix, Ensign's father, former chairman of the Mandalay Resort Group, shelled out $96,000 a year ago to his son's mistress. Apparently the elder Ensign knows a little something about that famous saying "whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."
At this point, if Ensign were to resign, I'm not even sure if he would be able to dodge a massive ethics investigation. Did he offer the son of his mistress a job because he deserved a job or did he do so because of the relationship with the guy's mother? And, even more cynical, could he have offered the son a job because he had found out about the affair and this was Ensign's way of keeping him quiet? All of these things boggle my mind. The fact that this is a sitting United States senator who was being urged by his Senate colleague and housemate, Tom Coburn, to abandon the affair while living a high profile life is small potatoes in comparison to the financial and ethical breaches.
While some of us have moved on from wondering what exactly this secretive Christian group known as C-Street is that houses the likes of Ensign, Sanford and Coburn, I think it is safe to say that most of us still can't wrap our minds around the bigger question here--how'd this fly under the radar for so long? The man either asked his parents to pay off the woman he was cheating on his wife with or they volunteered the money. Meanwhile a fellow senator is begging Ensign to end this affair and what does he do? Hires the son of his mistress to work for the NRSC. What, his campaign wasn't good enough?