A close confidant to Senator Rand Paul has been indicted for alleged conspiracy to bribe a state senator from Iowa in 2011 to change allegiances to Ron, Paul’s father, who was then a Republican presidential nomination candidate.
A longtime Rand Paul aide, Jesse Benton, who is now the head of a super PAC that supports the 2016 presidential bid by the Republican from Kentucky, faces charges of obstructing an investigation, conspiracy, making false statements to the FBI and submitting campaign finance reports that were false.
Dimitrios Kesari and John Tate are also facing charges that are connected to this alleged payoff.
Paul’s campaign did not respond to the requests to make a comment. However, another client of Benton, Mike Harmon a state rep form Kentucky said that Benton had called him on Wednesday and told him Paul had his back.
Harmon said that Benton had told him that Rand was going to stand with him and that some of his other clients would as well.
Benton is managing the campaign of Harmon for the position of state auditor and Harmon said he would take the next 24 hours to make a decision as to whether he would keep Benton on his staff.
The Justice Department said that three operatives had paid over $70,000, concealed as campaign expenditures, to then state Senator Kent Sorenson to shift his support to Ron Paul from Rep. Michele Bachmann. Sorenson did that on December 28, 2011. The three operatives had allegedly coached Sorenson into lying when he was asked whether he had been offered any money in return for his support.
The arrangement came to the forefront in August of 2014 when Sorenson entered a plea of guilty to charges he caused a campaign to falsely report its expenditure to the feds, as well as to charges for obstruction of justice. He is awaiting his sentence to be handed down.
This is the latest blow to Paul’s campaign during a week that already has left the libertarian candidate back on his heels.
Though these indictments do not touch any member of Rand’s campaign staff directly, Benton is a force in Rand’s universe.