John Ensign

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John Ensign (1958-) is a United States Senator (R-Nevada). He was a veterinarian before entering politics, and then served two terms in the House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate in 2000.

He serves on the Senate Committee on Finance Senate Committee on the Budget; Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation; Communications, Technology, and the Internet (ranking Republican), Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security Subcommittee, Surface Transportation Subcommittees; Senate Committee on Rules & Administration; Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Before his involvement in an extramarital affair was disclosed, he was the fourth-ranking member of the Republican leadership, as chair of the Republican Policy Committee, but resigned. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said “He’s accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized to his family and constituents. He offered, and I accepted, his resignation as chairman of the Policy Committee.”[1]

Political issues

Ensign is embattled in a situation developing from an extramarital affair and a possible payoff. [2] The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics put him on a bipartisan list of most corrupt legislators, for his "having an extramarital affair with a staff member that was followed by $96,000 in payments from his parents to the family of the woman involved in the affair.

If Ensign could just “earn people’s respect back,” he told a reporter, then his political future would “take care of itself.” He has not been at any fundraisers since the matter broke, and, while Ensign is not due for reelection until 2012, the Nevada Democrats are making an issue of Ensign in the troubled reelection campaign of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "Democratic strategists are eager to present Nevada voters with a stark choice: Return a powerful majority leader to Washington, or be represented by a freshman senator and a veteran who had to give up his leadership post because of scandal." [3]

Animal advocacy

While it is not the specific scope of any committee, he brings a special professional perspective to humane treatment of animals. He introduced the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, signed into law by President Bush on December 19, 2003, protects exotic animals by preventing people from keeping them as pets. More recently, the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, which was originally authored by Ensign in 2002, was signed into law by President Bush on May 3, 2007.


In the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Ensign is a member of the Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy, Health Care and Taxation Subcommittees. He is also on the Senate Committee on the Budget

Commerce, Science & Transportation

Ensign has been a high technology advocate. He is the ranking Republican on the Communications, Technology, and the Internet, and a member of the Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security Subcommittee and Surface Transportation Subcommittees.

In 2006, he opposed a network neutrality amendment on the grounds that the problem had not actually manifested itself in discriminatory pricing. It had been introduced by Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota)[4]

Homeland security

State, Local, and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration Subcommitee, ranking minority member


  • Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 1985


  1. "Sen. John Ensign resigns GOP leadership post", CNN, 17 June 2009
  2. Benjamin Spillman (16 September 2009), "Watchdog group adds Ensign to list", Las Vegas Review-Journal
  3. Manu Raju (11 September 2009), "Ensign begs forgiveness at home", Politico
  4. Kim Hart and Sara Kehaulani Goo (29 June 2006), "'Net Neutrality' Amendment Rejected: Senate Committee Approves Telecom Bill, but Republicans May Need More Votes", Washington Post