Kentucky Political Operative Jesse Benton Acquitted of Lying To FBI
Updated 3:24 p.m.: A political operative with ties to U.S. Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell has been acquitted of charges of lying to the FBI.
A federal grand jury indicted Jesse Benton earlier this year on charges stemming from 2011 when he managed the presidential campaign of former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul. Benton and others were accused of paying off former Iowa state senator Kent Sorenson in exchange for his endorsement for Paul’s campaign in advance of the Iowa Caucus.
An Iowa jury found Benton not guilty on charges that he lied to the FBI about the episode. Additional charges of conspiracy, causing false records and causing false campaign contribution reports were dismissed before the trial.
Another Ron Paul aid, Dimitri Kesari, was found guilty of filing false records that covered up payments to Sorenson.
Benton has deep ties to Kentucky’s Republican Party. He managed U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s reelection campaign last year, dropping out when the bribery scandal broke out in the summer of 2014.
Benton is also married to Rand Paul’s niece.
In a statement, Sen. Paul said “I am happy that justice has been served.”
Benton stepped down from managing the pro-Paul America’s Liberty PAC this summer after the revelation that he was under a federal indictment.
He also stepped down from managing the campaign of Danville Republican Rep. Mike Harmon, who’s running for state auditor.
Harmon said on Thursday that he is “happy for Jesse and his family.”
“Hopefully he can now get on with his life. I pray he has a joyous and abundant life,” Harmon said.
Prosecutors alleged the men knowingly hid $73,000 in payments to Sorenson, who endorsed Paul's campaign before the Iowa caucuses.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.