Sex Scandal Details

#3

Ensign’s Parents Paying Off His Mistress

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Ensign admitting to an extramarital affair

Ensign admitting to an extramarital affair

When U.S. Sen. John Ensign admitted to an affair with a campaign staffer, his big political problem seemed to be hypocrisy: he had called on President Clinton to resign over the Lewinsky affair, and had campaigned as a family-values, sanctity-of-marriage conservative. But when the bizarre cash-soaked details of his affair became known, hypocrisy became the least of his problems. While continuing the affair, the senator decided to dump his mistress (and her husband) from his payroll, but he tried to give them a soft landing: making calls to secure a job for the husband and arranging a huge cash payout to the mistress. It would be illegal for Ensign to pay a big severance from personal or campaign funds, so his lawyer explained, poker-faced, that the $96,000 check should be seen as a gift to the mistress and her family from Senator Ensign’s parents. Imagine the phone call: “Mom? Dad? You know my mistress? Would you mind writing her a check for $96,000?” Who does that? Maybe that’s normal for the sons of casino moguls, but it’s not even normal for the louche standards of D.C. sex scandals. His parents? Really? As of now, Ensign says he’s running for reelection. The campaign slogan writes itself: “Ensign 2012: Don’t Worry, His Mom and Dad Took Care of It.”

Maddow is host of The Rachel Maddow Show. Follow her on Twitter.

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