Gibbons says he feels badly for Ensigns

RENO — Gov. Jim Gibbons says he feels “very badly” for U.S. Sen. John Ensign and his wife, Darlene, after the senator admitted having an extramarital affair with a former campaign worker.

Gibbons, who is divorcing first lady Dawn Gibbons, offered support to his fellow Republican, but said he has not talked with Ensign since the senator’s Tuesday announcement of the nine-month affair with Cindy Hampton last year.

“I feel very badly for John and I feel very badly for Darlene,” Gibbons told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “I think their family is suffering. This is a very personal and private matter for them.

“John handled this the way he thought was best, and I think their family has a lot of work to do to get through this. I just want to tell them that they have my support. Whatever I can do to help them is fine,” the governor added.

Gibbons declined to speculate on how the affair could affect Ensign’s political future. Ensign has said he intends to remain in the Senate.

“John will evaluate that over the next few months,” Gibbons said. “He will make a determination of how that is going to affect his future and goals. Those are decisions that John and his family are going to have to make, not the governor of Nevada.”

Ensign’s admission comes after a string of disclosures and allegations about Gibbons. Since his election in 2006, Gibbons has been accused of sexual assault, sending love notes on a state phone and improperly firing a state employee. In court documents related to divorce proceedings, his wife, Dawn, accused him of a history of infidelity.