BACK TO THE OTHER GOP ADULTERY SCANDAL…. Sen. John Ensign (R) of Nevada had to be relieved, at least a little, when South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s (R) sex scandal knocked Ensign’s sex scandal from the headlines. In fact, the details of Sanford’s controversy made Ensign’s mess seem rather mild by comparison.

Don’t look now, but the messy details of Ensign’s affair are making a comeback, and may rival Sanford after all.

Nevada Sen. John Ensign has acknowledged that his parents paid his mistress and her family $96,000 in April 2008, according to a statement made by his attorney moments ago.

“After the Senator told his parents about the affair, his parents decided to make the gifts out of concern for the well-being of long-time family friends during a difficult time,” said Paul Coggins, counsel to Ensign.

Coggins added that Ensign never used official money or campaign funds to make the payments. “None of the gifts came from campaign or official funds nor were they related to any campaign or official duties,” said Coggins. “Senator Ensign has complied with all applicable laws and Senate ethics rules.”

Ensign’s acknowledgment comes less than 24 hours after Jon Ralston, the king of Nevada political reporters, sat down with Doug Hampton — the husband of Ensign’s mistress — and made a string of allegations including that Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn had tried unsuccessfully to force Ensign to end the affair.

Hmm. A $96,000 “gift”? Which Ensign’s parents gave their son’s mistress? And which came on top of a $25,000 “severance” payment?

Chris Cillizza added, “Ensign had weathered the initial bad press surrounding his affair but this detail may be too much.”

As for Coburn, initial reports suggested that the far-right Oklahoman encouraged Ensign to pay off his mistress, though this afternoon, Coburn denied having done so.

At this point, Coburn seems reluctant to go into additional details, claiming that when he spoke to Ensign about the affair, he was acting in a physician/spiritual counselor capacity, which makes the discussions confidential.

He hopes.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.