Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) presidential campaign hasn’t had much luck lately. By nearly every metric – poll support, fundraising, endorsements, etc. – the Republican senator’s bid for national office has struggled.
Today, conditions took a turn for the worse. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Jesse Benton, the head of Rand Paul’s super PAC, was indicted today on bribery charges.
Benton, a longtime Paul family ally and the campaign manager for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s 2014 re-election campaign, was charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with conspiracy, causing false records to obstruct a contemplated investigation, causing the submission of false campaign expenditure reports to the Federal Election Commission, and engaging in a scheme to make false statements to the FEC, according to a news release from the Justice Department.Benton also has been charged with making false statements to the FBI, according to the news release.
Benton wasn’t alone – he and two other aides to Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign were all charged today.
This story may be familiar to long-time readers, but let’s quickly recap what the controversy is all about.
As we discussed about a year ago at this time, the controversy started in the 2012 Republican presidential caucuses in Iowa. Then-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.
The shift was not the result of a sudden realization, but rather, Sorenson switched teams because the Ron Paul campaign paid him a $73,000 bribe. Sorenson eventually pleaded guilty to two criminal counts associated with the bribe and the lies told to cover it up.
But that didn’t end the story. We know who received the bribe, but the investigation continued into who paid the bribe.
All of which brings us today. When Benton first emerged as a figure in the scandal, he was forced to resign as Mitch McConnell’s 2014 campaign manager, but Rand Paul nevertheless made Benton a top aide in his political operation.
What happens now, at least politically, is unclear. Benton will make his first court appearance early next month, but whether he intends to maintain his leadership role in Rand Paul’s super PAC is unclear.
What’s more, the Lexington Herald-Leader’s report added, “In addition to running Paul’s super PAC, Benton is managing the campaign of Republican state auditor nominee Mike Harmon, a state representative from Danville, in his bid against incumbent Auditor Adam Edelen.”