Sen. John Ensign went public with the news of his extramarital affair after the woman's husband tried to blackmail him, insiders tell Politico. The Nevada Republican had the affair with a staffer while he was separated from his wife, according to current and former aides. He gave her a severance package after reconciling with his wife, and her husband later demanded money.
The conservative senator, whose 2012 presidential hopes have now been seriously dented, acknowledged yesterday that he had "violated the vows” of his marriage, but declined to name the woman involved. Ensign told fellow Nevadan Harry Reid of the affair before his announcement. "I didn’t give him any advice,” said the Senate majority leader. “I just told him he’s my friend. I’m pulling for him. "