Sen. John Ensign, a Nevada Republican, has admitted having an extramarital affair with a member of his campaign staff.
"Last year I had an affair. I violated the vows of my marriage. It's absolutely the worst thing I've ever done in my life," Ensign said at a press conference in Nevada this afternoon.
"If there was ever anything that I could take back in my life, this would be it," he continued. "I take full responsibility for my actions."
Ensign said the affairtook place "about a year ago," and that it involved a married female campaign staffer with whom he was close friends. "That closeness put me into situations during a very difficult time in my marriage which led to my inappropriate behavior," Ensign said.
The senator missed an important vote on the travel industry in Washington to return to Nevada to make the announcement. He did not take questions.
The Associated Press reports that Ensign's wife released a statement saying the affair was first revealed to her last year, and that the family has since "worked through the situation and we have come to a reconciliation."
"This has been difficult on both families," said Darlene Ensign. "With the help of our family and close friends our marriage has become stronger."
In his remarks today, Ensign said he is "truly blessed to have a wife like Darlene, who has found it in her heart to forgive me."
Ensign was one of the leading voices calling for Republican Sen. Larry Craig to resign in 2007, following Craig's arrest for disorderly conduct in an airport restroom. Ensign, a conservative first elected in 2000, called Craig a "disgrace" following the revelations.
In a speech "to defend the sanctity of marriage and urge passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment Act," on the Senate floor in 2004, Ensign said "marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded."
The fourth highest ranking Republican in the Senate, Ensign is chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.
"I know that I have deeply hurt and disappointed my wife Darlene, my children, my family, friends, my staff, and all those who believed in me," Ensign said in his remarks Tuesday. "And to all of them, especially my wife, I'm truly sorry."
Watch Sen. Ensign Comment On His Affair: