ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:
An apologetic Sen. John Ensign, R-NV, today bid farewell to the Senate one day before his resignation takes effect on Tuesday.
During the two week Congressional recess that ended today, Ensign announced that he would leave office early due to the “continued personal cost” of the fall-out from an extramarital affair he had with the wife of his former top aide. The affair became the source of a criminal and ethics investigation. While Ensign announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election in 2012 and the Justice Department dropped its probe into payments he made to his former staffer, the Senate Ethics Committee continued to plow ahead with its investigation. Ultimately, Ensign opted to step aside early.
“We’ve accomplished a lot,” Ensign said today on the Senate floor, touting – among other things – his record as an advocate for education reform.
When he came to Capitol Hill, Ensign said, “I simply wanted to make a difference in this great country. Throughout the years, I may have lost my naivete, but I never lost my idealism.”
“Unfortunately I was blind to how arrogant and self-centered I had become. I did not recognize that I thought mostly of myself,” he said. “This is how dangerous the feeling of power and adulation can be.”
Unlike in his resignation statement issued late last month, Ensign today apologized to his Senate colleagues and to his family. In addition, he described how his personal experience had taught him to forgive others. He recounted how he had once called on former Sens. Ted Stevens and Larry Craig to resign, but later apologized to them and asked for their forgiveness.
“I hope that I can now show mercy to people who come into my life who truly need it,” Ensign vowed.
Last week Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval appointed Rep. Dean Heller to fill Ensign’s seat.