Ron Paul

Former Ron Paul Campaign Aides Found Guilty on Charges Related to Payoff to Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson


A jury in Iowa today convicted three former Ron Paul campaign aides for campaign finance-reporting crimes after a long legal saga.

Back during the 2012 Ron Paul campaign, state Sen. Kent Sorenson made a dramatic switch from support for Michele Bachmann to support for Ron Paul. It turns out he was encouraged to do so by a $73,000 payoff via the campaign. (Ironically, hitting Bachmann at that point in the campaign likely harmed Paul's cause by elevating the previously nowheresville Rick Santorum.)

The payments to Sorenson was not properly reported as required by campaign finance law, and this week three Paul campaign operatives were found guilty on charges related to it, after a long, complicated history of indictments and trials and previous failures to convict. (No one involved believes Paul himself was aware or approved of the payoffs.)

Two of the operatives, Jesse Benton, Paul's top political adviser in 2012 who is married to one of Paul's granddaughters, and John Tate, his campaign manager, were found guilty on four charges, all related to filing false records to the government regarding the expenditure.

Tate had been running a Paul-associated grassroots advocacy group, Campaign for Liberty, between and after Paul's presidential runs, and both he and Benson had been higher-ups with a Rand Paul-supporting SuperPAC, America's Liberty.

The payment was funneled through an audio/visual services company with links to Dimitri Kesari's family. Kesari was found guilty today on three charges.

Full report today from the Des Moines Register. The Register sums up the dogged insistence the feds had on getting these guys convicted:

The trial was a rare second try for the federal government to convict the operatives after an earlier prosecution last year ended with mixed results. A grand jury indicted the three operatives on several charges that were first announced on Aug. 5, including conspiracy, causing false records, causing false campaign expenditure reports and false statements scheme.

But U.S. District Judge John Jarvey dismissed the charges entirely against Tate and all but one charge against Benton ahead of a trial that began in October.

The dismissals, which left the door open for new prosecutions using different evidence, came after Jarvey found prosecutors wrongly used evidence gathered in FBI interviews with Benton and Tate to secure indictments from the grand jury. Both operatives participated in the interviews after signing so-called proffer agreements that bar prosecutors from using their statements as evidence against them in a wide variety of charges, according to the Associated Press.

Previous reporting here on the initial Sorenson story breaking back in 2013; the initial indictments; Ron Paul's testimony in first trial and belief it was political opportunism aimed at his people; the initial acquittal for Benton and and the re-indictment which led to today's guilty verdict

NEXT: Brutal New Clinton Ads Target Trump, Portraying Him as Unacceptable

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Good, they caught all the political corruptionists, now are we Ready for Hillary?

    1. Yeah they forgot to raise money from Saudi Arabia for the Ron Paul foundation and then put the guy on the payroll. That’s all totally legit and uncorrupt, you see.

  2. Light the Hihn signal!!!

  3. So, Jesse Benton went from:

    Working for Ron Paul, to

    Working for Mitch McConnell, to

    Working for a Trump SuperPAC, to

    Convicted of pointless campaign skullduggery.

    I’m getting the sense some people in the “liberty movement” might be opportunists and grifters who don’t really believe in anything.

    1. Had some dealings with the Paul, too, if I remember correctly. But, point taken.

    2. I’m more likely to believe politics inherently attracts or politicizes people even when you have the best intentions in mind.

    3. That is another way of saying “campaign consultant”.

    4. All sorts of things happen around Ron Paul about which he knows nothing. For instance, he didn’t know who ghosted newsletters that he was fraudulently selling as his own work product. Unsurprisingly, the most prominently mentioned suspect, Lew Rockwell, is promoting Trump, as are many of his sycophants.

  4. Great… there goes my campaign staff. Back to square 1.

  5. Maybe President Trump will pardon them.

  6. Let’s bribe someone who won’t help us win, which is legal in Iowa, but then let’s not report it to the Feds. What can possibly go wrong? Are these the same guys who didn’t know what to do with 10,000 volunteers, and lost the voter contact lists the day of the primary?

  7. I had some home brew place well in the state fair, and Sorenson sent me a nice little post card congratulating me. I followed his career for a while. He seemed like a relatively rational dude that had a good future. Then Busted . . . . .

    oh well

  8. Gee, let me get a giant bucket for all my tears.

  9. Who in Ron Paul’s campaign paid people to support them?

    It sounds like such all risk, no reward play. They didn’t exactly pay for celebrity endorsements. I’ve never heard of any of these guys.

  10. Campaign Finance laws are a violation of the First Amendment. But the 97% of the population that hates liberty are happy.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.