Scandal rocks the Paul campaign on the eve of the first Republican presidential debate. Wednesday, Jesse Benton, a political operative, known for his work on the presidential bid for former Rep. Ron Paul in 2012 and top ally of presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul has been indicted by a federal grand jury. The indictment charges Benton, along with two other operatives, John Tate and Dimitrios Kesari, with conspiracy to knowingly defraud the United States, obstructing justice, and falsifying campaign finance records. Interestingly, Benton is currently running Rand Paul’s Super PAC, dedicated to electing Sen. Rand Paul as the President of the United States in 2016. John Tate is the founder and president of the PAC.
According to the indictment, former Republican Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson accepted money from the Paul aides to switch his endorsement from Rep. Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul before the 2012 Iowa caucus. During the course of the investigation Sorenson acknowledged receiving over $70,000 to make the switch and pled guilty in federal court last August. The payments were funneled through two companies to hide from public disclosure.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell who announced the indictments today made the following statement, “when political operatives make under-the-table payments to buy an elected official’s political support, it undermines public confidence in our entire political system.”