After Benton's 'holding my nose' comment, McConnell campaign tries to make light of it

08/08/2013 05:09 PM

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell isn’t saying much about his campaign manager’s comments in a taped conversation from January in which he said he is “holding my nose for years” as he works for the Senate Republican Leader.

But the campaign essentially reaffirmed its support of Benton late Thursday afternoon when it tweeted out a picture of McConnell smiling and pointing at Benton holding his nose. The tweet urged followers to retweet it “if you agree — nothing smells worse than Obamacare #nosegate.”

Benton has come under fire over the last 48 hours, most recently when the libertarian published audio of the phone call between Benton and Dennis Fusaro, a former staffer on the 2008 Ron Paul for President campaign.

“Between you and me, I’m sort of holding my nose for two years. What I’m doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand in 2016. So that’s my long vision,” Benton said at the end of the two-minute phone call. Here’s that clip:

Benton issued a statement saying he was “truly sick” that Fusaro taped the phone call between the two on Jan. 9.

“It is truly sick that someone would record a private phone conversation I had out of kindness and use it to try to hurt me,” Benton said. “I believe in Senator McConnell and am 100 percent committed to his re-election. Being selected to lead his campaign is one of the great honors of my life and I look forward to victory in November of 2014.”

Benton declined to comment further to Pure Politics about discussions with McConnell about the recording.

Fusaro worked in 2007 as national field director for Paul’s campaign. He now works as vice president of development at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington.

In the call, Fusaro asked Benton if he was aware of off-the-books payments by groups related to Paul to an Iowa state Senator during the 2012 presidential race. Benton said he wasn’t aware of it. And Fusaro said he had proof and offered to send it to Benton.

Benton told Pure Politics he never received it.

On Wednesday, the Center for Responsive Politics reported on its blog,, that Benton “may have been involved with negotiations” to put an Iowa state senator on the Paul campaign’s payroll if he switched from backing Michele Bachmann’s campaign to Paul.

The report quoted from an email sent Oct. 29, 2011, by a representative of Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson. Sorenson, according to the email, was seeking a job paying $8,000 per month as well as a $5,000-a-month job for a friend.

Benton said he couldn’t comment on the allegations.


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