ABC News' Amy Walter reports:
Update at 1:30pm ET, 4/22/11:
The bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee released a two-sentence statement on the impending early resignation of John Ensign early next month. The statement, issued from committee co-chairs Democrat Barbara Boxer and Republican Johnny Isakson, says that Ensign “made the appropriate decision” in resigning. But it also suggests that the Committee, which has been investigating him for 22 months, would continue and complete its work. The conventional wisdom is that once a member resigns, investigations stop. Apparently not in this case.
“The Senate Ethics Committee has worked diligently for 22 months on this matter and will complete its work in a timely fashion. Senator Ensign has made the appropriate decision.”
Original Post at 6:45pm ET, 4/21:
Nevada Sen. John Ensign will announce tomorrow that he plans to resign from the Senate in May, according to a statement released by his Senate office.
Ensign announced earlier this year he would not seek reelection to a third term in 2012. His extramarital affair with the wife of his former top aide was the source of both criminal and ethics investigation. Last December, the Department of Justice dropped its investigation related to payments he made to his former staffer. He is, however, still a subject of a Senate Ethics Committee investigation and Ensign's statement Thursday night makes clear that investigation was ongoing and that the committee recently hired an outside counsel. There is a lot of speculation that the timing of his immediate retirement, first reported by Nevada reporter John Ralston, is related to this investigation.
“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. For my family and me, this continued personal cost is simply too great," said Ensign in the paper statement. Read it here.
There is also speculation that Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval will appoint Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., for the remainder of Ensign’s term. Heller would have to stand for election in November of 2012. (Interesting side note, Heller’s district includes Reno where President Obama is today.) There would also have to be a special election to replace Heller.
There are already at least two Democrats actively running for the Senate seat.
This post has been updated.