Longtime aides to Sen. Rand Paul’s political team will take an undefined “leave of absence” from the only Super PAC endorsed by the Republican presidential candidate on the day of the first Republican debate.
This move comes just one day after the Justice Department indicted them for concealing payments to an Iowa lawmaker in exchange for his support, stemming from their work on the 2012 presidential campaign run of Paul’s father, Ron Paul.
America’s Liberty PAC issued a statement a day after the federal charges were made public.
“As a result of the indictments and for the sake of justice, John Tate, founder and President of ALPAC, and Jesse Benton, General Consultant to ALPAC, will take leaves of absence to vigorously fight to prove that they are innocent of these charges.”
Sen. Rand Paul on Thursday morning called the timing “suspicious” in an interview with CBS.
“I think that’s at least suspicious timed,” he told Charlie Rose. “The stuff’s complicated, you know, campaign finance rules are very complicated, they’ll be lawyers and accountants involved in this, and uh, they’ll, you know, they’ll get it sorted out over time, I’m sure.”
Tate, Benton and another associate, Dimitri Kesari, are charged with conspiracy, causing false records to obstruct a contemplated investigation, causing the submission of false campaign expenditure reports to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and engaging in a scheme to make false statements to the FEC. Benton is additionally charged with making false statements to the FBI.
Taking a similar approach to Ron and Rand Paul, the group found the timing of the indictment suspicious.
“We are disappointed the Government has chosen to do this,” John McCardell, Vice President for Finance for the group, wrote Thursday morning.
“The timing of the indictments speaks volumes as they came on the eve of the first Republican debate, and we find it very suspicious. ALPAC will continue to fight for Rand Paul in his race for the White House. We stand behind Rand, what he believes in, and his promise to defeat the Washington Machine.”
The group has not detailed who would take charge of the PAC, leaving a leadership hole in a SuperPAC comprised of staffers from previous Paul family campaigns.