Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign announced Thursday he will resign, effective May 3rd.
Ensign has been the subject of continued controversy over an affair he had with the wife of a senior aide. Ensign’s parents provided $96,000 to the mistress’ husband and the affair became a national media spectacle in 2009. The senator is under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee.
“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’s resignation letter said. “For my family and me, this continued personal cost is simply too great.”
Ensign had already announced that he would not seek re-election in 2012. Nevada Republican Rep. Dean Heller and Nevada Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley have declared their intention to run for the seat.
If Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval appoints Heller to fill Ensign’s seat, a special election would be held to fill the House vacancy. Former senatorial candidate Sharron Angle has already declared, but may face tough competition from other Republican contenders.
“Governor Sandoval has the authority to appoint individuals to the U.S. Senate and I will respect whatever decision that he makes,” Heller said in a statement.