McConnell Campaign Manager Jesse Benton resigns amid Iowa bribery scandal

08/29/2014 07:07 PM

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton resigned late Friday amid allegations connected to an Iowa bribery scandal.

In a statement, Benton says that accounts in the press tying him to an Iowa U.S. Senator who plead guilty to federal bribery charges after switching support in the 2012 GOP presidential race are false and “hurtful.”

Benton says the reason he is leaving the campaign is because the allegations risk becoming a distraction for McConnell’s re-election race against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Read the full statement below:

There is no more important cause for both Kentucky, my new home I have come to love, and our country than electing Mitch McConnell Majority Leader of the United States Senate. I believe this deep in my bones, and I would never allow anything or anyone to get in the way.

That includes myself.

Recently, there have been inaccurate press accounts and unsubstantiated media rumors about me and my role in past campaigns that are politically motivated, unfair and, most importantly, untrue. I hope those who know me recognize that I strive to be a man of integrity.

The press accounts and rumors are particularly hurtful because they are false.

However, what is most troubling to me is that they risk unfairly undermining and becoming a distraction to this reelection campaign.

Working for Mitch McConnell is one of the great honors of my life. He is a friend, a mentor and a great man this commonwealth desperately needs. I cannot, and will not, allow any possibility that my circumstances will effect the voters’ ability to hear his message and assess his record. This election is far too important and the stakes way too high.

With a heavy heart, I offered Sen. McConnell my resignation this afternoon and he reluctantly accepted. Effective Saturday, August 30th, I will no longer be the “Team Mitch” campaign manager.

The good news is that most of my work has been done. We have built a top flight team of incredible people that are working tirelessly to ensure Mitch’s re-election. They are a finely oiled machine and will not skip a beat without me.

This decision breaks my heart, but I know it is the right thing for Mitch, for Kentucky and for the country.

The Lexington-Herald Leader was the first to report the story.

Benton, who is married to the granddaughter of former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, served as the elder Paul’s political director during his last presidential race and took over Rand Paul’s campaign for U.S. Senate in 2010.

Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson plead guilty to receiving thousands in under-the-table-payments to switch his support from Michelle Bachmann to Ron Paul in the early primary state’s 2012 presidential election.

In recent months Josh Holmes, McConnell’s chief of staff, has been playing a larger role in the campaign — Benton has been less visible on the campaign trail since the May primary.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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