Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Jesse Benton charged with bribery over 2011 case

Rand Paul 2016: Jesse Benton, Super PAC head, indicted in payment scheme - Politico - Kyle Cheney, Katie Glueck, & Manu Raju:

 August 5, 2015 - "A close confidant of Sen. Rand Paul was indicted Wednesday for an alleged conspiracy to bribe an Iowa state senator in 2011 to shift allegiances to Paul’s father, Ron, then a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

"Jesse Benton, a longtime aide to the younger Paul who’s now helming a super PAC supporting the Kentucky Republican’s 2016 presidential bid, faces charges of conspiracy, obstructing an investigation, submitting false campaign finance reports to the Federal Election Commission and making false statements to the FBI. Two other operatives, John Tate and Dimitrios Kesari, also face charges connected to the alleged payoff....

"'Senator Rand Paul is disappointed that the Obama justice department chose to release this just prior to the highly anticipated first Republican presidential debate,' said a campaign spokesman, who asked not to be identified. 'It certainly appears suspiciously timed and possibly, politically motivated. Additionally, these actions are from 2012 and have nothing to do with our campaign'....

"According to the Justice Department, the three operatives paid more than $70,000 — concealed as legitimate campaign expenditures — to then-state Sen. Kent Sorenson in order to shift his support from Rep. Michele Bachmann to the elder Paul. Sorenson made his switch public on Dec. 28, 2011, in Des Moines. The three operatives also coached Sorenson to lie when asked whether he was offered money for his support, according to the indictment....

"The super PAC Benton runs, America’s Liberty PAC, is one of three pro-Rand Paul presidential super PACs. The other two are Concerned American Voters, run by Jeff Frazee and Matt Kibbe, and Purple PAC, run by Ed Crane. America’s Liberty PAC, however, is the one super PAC that’s been sanctioned by the Paul campaign, and on its website it describes itself as the “only Super PAC endorsed by Senator Paul.”

"The fresh headlines of the scandal, which came one day before the first Republican debate, could impact not only Paul’s presidential ambitions, but also his reelection bid for his Senate seat. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Wednesday blasted out a story on the indictment with the subject line 'Hey Rand, We’ll See You When You Drop Out Of The Presidential Race!'

"Benton, 37, had been a rising star in GOP politics and is a Paul family member. (He is married to Ron Paul’s granddaughter, who is Rand Paul’s niece.) With his deep ties to the libertarian movement, Benton has long had clout among the conservative grass roots."

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