The controversy started, oddly enough, six days before the 2012 Republican presidential caucuses in Iowa.
In a development that was simply unheard of, state Sen. Kent Sorenson (R), the chair of Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign in Iowa, announced just six days before the caucuses that he was quitting Team Bachmann to support Ron Paul's presidential campaign.
At the time, the move seemed inexplicable, but this week we learned that the Ron Paul campaign paid Sorenson a $73,000 bribe to switch teams. Following a federal investigation into the incident, Sorenson pleaded guilty to two criminal counts associated with the bribe and the lies told to cover it up.
But the broader effects of the scandal didn't end with Sorenson's guilty plea. We know who received the bribe, but there's the unresolved matter of who paid the bribe.
The investigation remains ongoing and its effects have now reached Kentucky, where Jesse Benton resigned late yesterday as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) campaign manager, after Benton "emerged as a figure" in the controversy.
In an emailed statement Friday evening, Benton denied any involvement in the scandal.... Benton was Paul's political director at the time. [...]
Benton as well as former McConnell campaign consultant Dimitri Kesari -- who also worked for Paul -- were mentioned in documents gathered during an Iowa state ethics probe of Sorenson, a complaint to the Federal Election Commission and emails purported to be from the Paul campaign obtained by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors federal campaign finance issues.
For his part, Benton blasted "unsubstantiated media rumors" and insisted that the allegations surrounding his role in the Sorenson bribery scandal are "false."
If Benton is guilty of no wrongdoing, why resign late on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend? The Republican operative's statement added he feared "becoming a distraction" to Mitch McConnell's re-election campaign.
Benton's sudden resignation from the Senate Minority Leader's campaign, however, does not mark the end of the controversy.