Jesse Benton, a political strategist for former congressman Ron Paul who went on to run the pro-Trump Great America PAC, has been found guilty on four charges relating to the 2012 Paul presidential campaign.
Benton, alongside two other former aides to the Paul campaign, was found guilty of conspiracy, causing false records, creating false campaign expenditure reports and making false statements. The trio of Benton, John Tate and Dimitri Kesari had been charged with concocting a plan to pay then-Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson in exchange for him endorsing the campaign and helping it organize in early states.
Benton did not respond to questions from The Washington Post, and none of the men commented to reporters outside the Southern District of Iowa courthouse. All three had been there just months ago for a separate trial in the same case, in which Benton and Tate were acquitted on most charges. Despite the new case hanging over their heads, they celebrated and seemed to move on.
Tate, the former president of Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, had since maintained a low profile. But within months of the first acquittal, Benton — who had run an underperforming super PAC supporting the campaign of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and had stepped down after the first indictment — reemerged as the chief strategist of Great America PAC.
“Donald Trump pulls together a wide swath of people dissatisfied with the status quo,” Benton told The Post at the time. “We just heard from a lot of people that they wanted an outlet to help support Trump. We believe this is very much needed right now, because this is going to be a billion-dollar campaign for the presidency.”
None of Great America PAC’s other leaders, including longtime GOP strategist Ed Rollins or attorney Dan Backer, responded to requests for comment or questions about whether Benton will remain with the PAC.
“It’s a political vendetta, what’s going on here,” said Ron Paul to reporters outside the courthouse. “Our family is hoping and praying we can put this behind us.”