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Report: Paul staffers indicted over 2012 pay-for-play scandal

Jesse Barton, a key figure who connects former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has been indicted by federal prosecutors for lying about his role in a 2012 pay-for-play scandal involving former state Sen. Kent Sorenson. Two other key Paul campaign staffers involved in the scandal have been indicted.

Jesse Barton, a key figure who connects former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has been indicted by federal prosecutors for lying about his role in a 2012 pay-for-play scandal involving former state Sen. Kent Sorenson. Two other key Paul campaign staffers involved in the scandal have been indicted.

By Bob Eschliman
Editor

 

According to the Washington Times, three of former presidential hopeful Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign staffers were charged in an indicted unsealed today that accuses them of paying off former Republican state Sen. Kent Sorenson to switch allegiance in the last presidential race.

“Federal campaign finance laws are intended to ensure the integrity and transparency of the federal election process,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell in a statement announcing the indictment. “When political operatives make under-the-table payments to buy an elected official’s political support, it undermines public confidence in our entire political system.”

Jesse R. Benton, who formerly served as campaign manager for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s 2014 re-election effort and who was working for a SuperPAC connected to his wife’s uncle, Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, was among those indicted. He and former Ron Paul staffers John Tate and Dimitrios Kesari are accused of falsifying Federal Election Commission records and their own invoices to cover up the payoffs, and lying to the FBI during a follow-up investigation.

Benton is married to Ron Paul’s granddaughter, Valori Pyeatt, and they have a daughter, Caroline. The couple met during an interview for Benton to work for one of Ron Paul’s campaigns. Pyeatt is the daughter of Ron Paul’s daughter Lori Pyeatt, who has also worked on the Ron Paul campaign.

After the 2012 presidential election, Benton served as McConnell’s campaign manager for his 2014 re-election campaign. McConnell had endorsed Rand Paul’s 2010 Republican primary opponent, Trey Grayson, but Paul endorsed McConnell over his primary challenged, Matt Bevin, which launched a political alliance between the two Republican Senators from Kentucky.

Benton was seen as the architect of the deal as part of a mission to bring the various Republican factions together with the goal of getting Rand Paul in the White House in 2017. Until the pay-for-play scandal came up, it was expected that Benton would run Paul’s 2016 presidential campaign. Instead, he has worked on fundraising for a key Rand Paul Super PAC, America’s Liberty PAC.

Tate founded America’s Liberty PAC several years ago to be Rand Paul’s 2016 Super PAC. It has a goal of raising $20 to $30 million to fund his presidential campaign, but has fallen far short of that mark, so far.