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McConnell Aide Resigns As Ron Paul Scandal Develops

11:25 AM, Sep 2, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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Just before the start of the Labor Day holiday weekend, the reelection campaign for Mitch McConnell of Kentucky announced its campaign manager, Jesse Benton, was resigning. Benton was leaving the campaign, Politico reports, "citing potential distractions over renewed attention to a scandal from the Iowa 2012 caucuses."

McConnell Aide Resigns As Ron Paul Scandal Develops

McConnell Senate Committee '14

Benton had served as chairman for Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign (he's also married to Paul's granddaughter). The Paul campaign has been accused of paying for the endorsement of at least one Iowa state senator. The former senator, Kent Sorenson, pled guilty last week to switching his endorsement from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul in 2011—shortly before the Iowa caucuses—in exchange for more than $70,000 from the Paul campaign. Sorenson also said he was paid by the Bachmann campaign.

Benton hasn't been formally accused of any wrongdoing, but there have been allegations that the former McConnell campaign chair knew about the pay-for-endorsement arrangement. In a phone conversation recorded last year by a disgruntled former Paul supporter in Iowa, Sorenson said of his payment from the Paul campaign, "Oh, I know Jesse knows. I know Jesse knows."

In a separate phone conversation recorded by the disgruntled supporter from January 2013, Benton denied his involvement in or knowledge of the scheme. Asked about the allegations last year, the McConnell campaign declined to answer. On that call, Benton also told the supporter that he was "holding his nose" working for the Senate minority leader until the forthcoming presidential campaign by McConnell's fellow Kentucky Republican and son of Ron Paul, Rand Paul. Benton told THE WEEKLY STANDARD that the recording of the call was "truly sick."

Benton and McConnell later made light of Benton's embarrassing statement by posing together with their noses held.

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