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Jesse Benton: Trump super PAC strategist found guilty of 2012 ‘campaign-finance violations’
- Updated: May 6, 2016
Jesse Benton, the former campaign manager of U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and campaign chairman for Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign, has been found guilty of multiple corruption charges relating to an endorsement-buying scheme in Iowa.
Jesse Benton, John Tate, Dimitri Kesari were indicted for conspiracy in November for hiding a $73,000 payment to former Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson, who reversed his endorsement of then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) to back Ron Paul just six days before the Iowa caucuses.
Benton is married to Ron Paul’s granddaughter and used to serve as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) campaign manager. He resigned from McConnell’s campaign in 2014 amidst allegations about his role in the plan to bribe Sorenson. Benton then joined America’s Liberty PAC, a super PAC supporting Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) presidential bid, in 2015. In March 2016, he joined the Great America PAC, which supports Donald Trump’s presidential bid.
The jury also found Benton and Tate guilty on three additional counts of causing false records, of causing false campaign finance expenditure reporting, and of a false statements scheme, according to the newspaper. Kesari was found guilty of causing false campaign finance expenditure reporting and of a false statements scheme, the paper reported. The aides paid Sorenson through a third-party video production company in order to hide the payments.
Benton, Tate and Kesari had originally been charged in August, but a judge dismissed some of the charges because prosecutors used FBI interviews as evidence that the judge said were not admissible. They were then indicted again in November, with email communication used as evidence against them.