With days left in Senate, Ensign wraps up

WASHINGTON -- With just days remaining in public office, Sen. John Ensign is back on Capitol Hill this week, putting the wraps on his 10 years in the Senate.

The Nevada Republican was spotted Thursday getting a pass renewed in the Senate identification office. A day earlier, a New York Times reporter said via Twitter he saw "a casually dressed" Ensign in a Senate corridor.

With the Senate out of session, and most of his colleagues back in their states, Ensign picked a quiet week to tie up loose ends and close shop.

The two-term senator has set Tuesday as his final day in office.

Ensign has said he was resigning rather than subject his family to continued pressures from a Senate ethics investigation stemming from his 2007-08 extramarital affair with a friend and former campaign aide.

"For my family and me, this continued personal cost is simply too great," he said in a resignation statement.

The Senate sightings were the first time Ensign has been seen in public since his resignation announcement April 21 , and since Congress went on a two-week spring recess on April 15.

Ensign's receptionist on Thursday said he was unavailable to talk to a reporter who stopped by his office.

"Sorry, he's not commenting any further," his communications director said.

Ensign had recently moved to a new office in the Russell Building, so it was unclear whether the framed pictures stacked on a table in his reception area were being taken down or just had not been put up.

Ensign has insisted he broke no law or Senate rule in his extramarital affair with former campaign aide Cindy Hampton, his wife's best friend, or from subsequent allegations of corruption leveled by Hampton's husband, Doug, who also was a friend and former staff member.

Ensign's departure might not bring to an end to the work of the Senate Ethics Committee that has been looking into the allegations for 22 months.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a fellow Nevadan and former Ethics Committee chairman, said this week the ethics panel was obligated to write a report with its findings on the scandal.

It is unclear how Ensign's final days as a senator will play out. It is unknown, for instance, whether he plans to deliver a final speech, or whether his departure will be a quiet one.

Stephens Washington Bureau reporter Peter Urban contributed to this report. Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760.