Tag Archives: Jesse Benton

Paul Adviser Found Not Guilty In Corruption Case

IOWA, October 22, 2015– On Thursday, an Iowa jury acquitted longtime aide to former congressman Ron Paul and son Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Jesse Benton on charges of lying to the FBI in an Iowa campaign finance corruption case.

“God is great,” Benton told reporter Grant Rodgers of the Des Moines Register as he left the Southern District of Iowa federal courthouse. “It feels good.” Benton had no other comments.

Senator Paul’s presidential campaign released a one-sentence statement in reaction to Thursday’s decision.

“I am happy that justice has been served,” Paul said in a statement sent by his campaign.

Last week, saying that the indictment against Benton and others was nothing more than political theater, the elder Paul accused the feds of targeting son Rand’s presidential campaign when he was called to testify against Benton in court.

Prosecutors announced the indictments against Benton just one day before the first Republican debate where Rand was set to take stage. At the time, Benton was heading up a Super PAC (political action committee) working on behalf of Rand Paul’s presidential race. The indictments made headlines across the country.
“I don’t consider that a coincidence,” Paul said. “I consider that more than seeking justice.”

Benton served as Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign chairman. In 2014, Benton was managing the reelection campaign of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), but resigned as the Iowa case started to attract a spotlight. Most recently, he served as the head of a pro-Rand Paul Super PAC dedicated to electing the senator as the Republican nominee for president in the 2016 election cycle.

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In Court, Ron Paul Accuses Feds Of Targeting Rand’s Campaign

DES MOINES, Iowa (October 15, 2015)—On Wednesday, retired Congressman and presidential contender Ron Paul came to a Des Moines’ federal courthouse to testify for the prosecution against two of his former top campaign staffers, Jesse Benton, who is married to Paul’s granddaughter, and Dimitri Kesari. With force, Paul told jurors that the timing of the indictments against Benton and Kesari were carefully planned in order to pose a threat against his son, United States Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is currently running for president on the Republican ticket.

Prosecutors announced the indictments against Benton and Kesari just one day before the first Republican debate where Rand was set to take stage. At the time, Benton was heading up a Super PAC (political action committee) working on behalf of Rand Paul’s presidential race. The indictments made headlines across the country.

“I don’t consider that a coincidence,” Paul said. “I consider that more than seeking justice.”

In an opening statement Tuesday, U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor Richard Pilger portrayed Paul as a victim of Benton and Kesari’s plot to keep him in the dark about hidden campaign payments. However, Paul didn’t seem happy about being called on behalf of the prosecution against the two staffers.

“I’m not testifying for the defense,” he said at one point during cross-examination from Kesari’s lawyer. “I’m testifying for the prosecution. And that’s been a heavy burden for my family.”

Last week, almost all charges against Benton were dropped. An additional staffer, John Tate, was also indicted. All charges were dropped against Tate.

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Did The Ron Paul Campaign Betray Liberty Voters In Iowa With a Backroom Deal?

The Liberty Movement in Iowa is one of the most politically active and well-constructed Liberty movements in the nation.  I was proud to speak at a Liberty Iowa event in April of this year and was deeply impressed by the grassroots work being done by this group.

Ben Swann Liberty Iowa Event

One of the most difficult challenges the Liberty Movement has faced throughout the country is convincing voters that this group rises above the political games and corruption so deeply entrenched in both the Democrat and Republican establishment.

That challenge for Liberty Iowa just got a lot tougher.

The Iowa Republican has released a series of emails and secretly recorded phone conversations over the past couple of days.  Those emails and conversations were provided to the Iowa Republican by Dennis Fusaro – the former Executive Director of the Iowans for Right to Work Committee.  In those emails, an alleged backdoor deal was made between Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson and the Paul campaign.  The deal included an agreement in which Sorenson would leave his position as the Iowa Chairman of Michelle Bachmann’s 2012 campaign just before the Iowa caucus to endorse Dr. Paul.

Since last spring, the Bachmann campaign has claimed that Sen. Sorenson defected to the Paul campaign because he was paid to do so.  The claims haven’t gone away.  The Iowa Supreme Court is looking into evidence that Sorenson committed two ethics violations.  As the Iowa Republican points out, this is the first time in 15 years that an ethics complaint has been forwarded to the state’s Supreme Court.  Bachmann has her own problems in Iowa with investigations by the  Federal Elections Commission on allegations of campaign finance violations.

Back to Sorenson: emails have now been released that indicate a deal was in fact made between Sorenson and the Paul campaign.  The claims also indicate that a number of the highest ranking members of the campaign knew about the deal including Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton and Deputy Campaign Manager Demitri Kasari. Benton is now the 2014 Campaign Manager for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

To be clear, the Paul campaign, Dr. Ron Paul himself and Kent Sorenson have insisted that no payment was ever made.  Here is Kent Sorenson discussing the issue with Fox’s Megyn Kelly.

So what was the alleged deal?  Was there a payoff?  According to a series of emails released by the Iowa Republican, Kent Sorenson requested payment of $8,000 dollars a month for himself which would have to be paid out until the fall of 2012.  There were other alleged demands for payment as well to the tune of $208,000:

“KS needs to match his current salary of $8,000 a month. This has been promised to him, even after MB drops out of the race, for the majority of 2012.  As a result, KS would need to be on payroll into the Fall of 2012.
CD [Chris Dorr] works for and with KS and would leave the MB with him. He would have to have his salary matched ($5,000 monthly) through April of 2012, when he was currently scheduled to quit the MB campaign.
We have established the Iowa Conservatives Fund PAC as an entity that KS will be using to recruit and elected [sic] good candidates to the Iowa General Assembly. (C4 will follow after next legislative session.) It’s KS’s leadership PAC. He would need a donation of $100,000 into this PAC prior to this action.”

Separately, in a secretly recorded conversation, Kent Sorenson admitted that he was given a check by Dimitri Kasari, the Paul Campaign’s 2012 Deputy Campaign Manager.  Actually, that the check was given to his wife by Kasari.  Sorenson does not say how much the check was for and despite the inferences being made, continually says he did not cash the check and that he was holding on to it.  In addition, Sorenson states that he knows that Jesse Benton is aware of the check saying:

“Sorenson: Do you think the whole Ron Paul, like all of them know?  I mean the inside group?
Fusaro: Sure, I’m sure Jesse Benton knows, he’s a scum…
Sorenson: Oh, I know that Jesse knows. I know Jesse knows.
Fusaro: He’s a scumbag.”

To be clear, throughout these conversations and emails, there is no indication that Dr. Paul himself was aware of any check or financial deal made with Sorenson in exchange for his endorsement.
So what is the fallout that can come from all of this?  For Kent Sorenson, Dimitri Kasari and even Jesse Benton, the fallout could be severe.  Consider the fact that a review of Opensecrets.org does not indicate any donations to the political action committee identified in the email.
As I mentioned there is no indication that Dr. Paul himself knew anything about this alleged deal.

But the biggest fallout may be for the men and women in Iowa who have been engaged for years in a very tough fight to restore liberty.  The idea of a backroom deal and under the table agreements for endorsements in exchange for payments and salaries is exactly what those who stood with the Paul campaign were standing against.

Is Kent Sorenson guilty of taking that payment?  Did Jesse Benton and Demitri Kasari offer him money in order to secure an endorsement and first place finish in the Iowa Caucus?  (A caucus that ultimately Dr. Paul won but media didn’t bother to report the true outcome of for months).

If these things did in fact happen, the true fallout will be felt by Liberty Iowa for years to come.  That is the most difficult thing about this story.  The men and women in Iowa who have fought for Liberty will have to carry the weight of a short-sighted decision that undermines everything Liberty Iowa has fought against.

The calls for Kent Sorenson to step down have already begun.  Sources In Iowa tell me that Iowa’s Secretary of State Matt Schultz has now asked that Sorenson step down.