POLITICS

Head Of Rand Paul Super PAC Indicted

Three staffers for former Rep. Ron Paul allegedly helped pay off a state senator in exchange for his endorsement.
<span>In this Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011, file photo,&nbsp;</span><span>Jesse Benton, then the campaign manager for Republican
In this Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011, file photo, Jesse Benton, then the campaign manager for Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), arrives at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa.

WASHINGTON -- Three former staffers for the 2012 presidential campaign of then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) -- including one who currently heads the super PAC of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ron Paul's son -- were indicted on Wednesday. The three allegedly engaged in a conspiracy to conceal payments made to an Iowa state senator in exchange for his support of the elder Paul's campaign, according to prosecutors.

The three former staffers -- Jesse Benton, John Tate and Dimitrios Kesari -- have been charged with "conspiracy, causing false records to obstruct a contemplated investigation, causing the submission of false campaign expenditure reports to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and engaging in a scheme to make false statements to the FEC," according to the Justice Department. Benton is also charged with making a false statement to the FBI, while Kesari is charged with obstruction of justice.

The staffers allegedly negotiated with Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson (R) -- who had been supporting the presidential campaign of then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) -- to switch over and back Ron Paul's campaign instead. The payments totaled $70,000, and were allegedly made in monthly installments of about $8,000 each. Federal prosecutors allege that the payments were hidden as audiovisual expenditures.

"I am not splitting hairs: Sorenson was not getting paid off," Benton allegedly told the FBI in July 2014. Federal prosecutors say that was a lie.

Benton, now the head of Rand Paul's super PAC, was also at one point the campaign manager of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

A spokeswoman for Rand Paul's super PAC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the indictment below.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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