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Thursday
Apr212011

Nevada Sen. John Ensign to Resign Amid Ethics Investigation

Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., will announce Friday 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 re-election for 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. 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.

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. 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.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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