Kentucky Republican Party sleaze ball operative didn't just crawl our of the sewer to funnel Russian money to Trump. He's been doing this kind of thing for Rand and Ron Paul-- and to a lesser extent-- Mitch McConnell, for many years. But this morning the Louisville Courier Journal, which knows him well, reported that Benton has been indicted for facilitating bribes from Russians to Trump. Mary Ramsey wrote that Benton "who was convicted on criminal charges in 2016 and later pardoned by President Trump, is facing more federal charges... indicted on multiple counts, including conspiracy to solicit and cause an illegal campaign contribution by a foreign national, the Department of Justice said in a statement Monday. Benton is accused of 'conspiring' with Roy Douglas 'Doug' Wead of Florida 'to solicit a political contribution from a Russian foreign national.'"
Benton is good at it, having done this kind of think domestically for decades and then helping McConnell stuff his campaign coffers and pockets with hundreds of thousands of dollars from China.
Wead told the foreign national he could arrange for them to meet with a 2016 presidential candidate "in exchange for a payment," the Justice Department says in court documents.
Benton then arranged, according to the Justice Department, for the foreign national to attend a fundraiser "and get a photograph with" the candidate if they gave a contribution to a "joint fundraising committee" that included the candidate's campaign committee and national party committee.
The complaint doesn't name the political candidate [but it was the most crooked and disgraceful candidate for president in history, Donald J. Trump].
The foreign national allegedly "wired $100,000" to a consulting company Benton owned. He is accused of then creating a "fake invoice" as a "cover story" for the payment.
"Benton ultimately filled out a contributor form, indicated that he was the contributor, and used a personal credit card to make a $25,000 contribution. Benton retained the remaining $75,000 of Foreign National 1’s money," the Justice Department claims in their statement [although in reality that just went into Trump's pockets, rather than the campaign].
If convicted, Benton and Wead face "maximum penalties" of five to 20 years in prison, per count, the Justice Department said.
Benton was previously convicted in 2016 of criminal charges related to an endorsement scheme during the 2012 presidential primaries involving a plot to provide $73,000 in payments to a former Iowa state representative to secure his endorsement of Sen. Rand Paul's father, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.
Benton managed Rand Paul's 2010 general election campaign and is married to Paul's niece. He also managed Sen. Mitch McConnell's 2014 reelection bid but resigned that position [was fired] amid the scandal over the 2012 incident.
Benton spent six months on home confinement and two years on probation before he received a full pardon from Trump in December. Another former Ron Paul campaign staffer was also pardoned in connection with the same case.
The FBI's San Diego office is investigating the new case, the Justice Department said Monday, and attorneys from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia are the prosecutors.
Knowing that one of Trump's many mental illnesses is projectionism, it should surprise no one that in 2016 he began screeching about how Hillary was taking illegal overseas money through the Clinton Foundation ("Crooked Hillary"). Taking money from foreign contributors is neither illegal nor unethical. It's illegal to take foreign money for your campaign-- which Trump did but Hillary, supposedly, didn't. It's also to sell foreign governments favors for cash, which was a hallmark of the Trump regime. In 2016 DWT began covering what looked like a breaking scandal and eventually several good-government groups filed complaints with the FEC against Trump. And then it kind of disappeared... until this week. Monday, over in London, The Telegraph reported on their own investigation of Trump's illicit campaign solicitations of foreigners. It was done through Trump's Great America PAC, which assured a "Chinese billionaire" that he would have White House influence in return for a $2 million dollar donation to the Trump campaign.
The newspaper had "undercover reporters posing as consultants acting for a Chinese benefactor" approach both Trump and Clinton PACs with a proposal to circumvent the law by funneling foreign donations into the campaigns. The Clinton campaign ignored the approaches but the Trumpists, of course, did not. The facilitators were Eric Beach, co-chairman of the pro-Trump Great America PAC Rudy Giuliani, Eric Trump and... Jesse Benton, who told the reporter posing as an operative for the Chinese billionaire that he would be the go-between so that there would be no "paper trail" linking the Chinese contribution to Trump, to Eric Trump or to Giuliani. Benton, a notorious sleaze-bag and crook, proposed channelling the donation through his own company to mask its origin. It would then be passed on to two C4s before being donated by them to the PAC, or simply used to fund projects the PAC had already planned. Benton said the $2 million, for which he would submit an invoice for "appearances" would "definitely allow us to spend two million more dollars on digital and television advertising for Trump." The Chinese benefactor's generosity would be "whispered into Mr Trump’s ear." He said he had previously helped US donors conceal donations.
A couple of years earlier, McConnell fired Benton as campaign manager when his endorsement-for-pay scheme was reported. But McConnell didn't like him much anyway, since Benton has been quoted and requoted telling Kentucky libertarians that he was "sort of holding my nose for two years because what we're doing here is going to be a big benefit for Rand in 2016." Benton, a longtime Paul family retainer, is married to Ron Paul's granddaughter, Valori Pyeatt (Rand's niece). Before remaking himself into a Paulista, though, Benton worked for Louisiana sleaze bag David "Diapers" Vitter. He was Rand Paul's campaign manager-- and tenant, living in Rand's basement-- when he ran for Senate against McConnell's handpicked candidate. And then he was Ron Paul's very well-compensated presidential campaign manager two years later.
It has been widely known since the summer of 2012-- including by McConnell himself-- that Benton had bribed at least one Iowa Republican to come over to the Ron Paul campaign.
There is some disagreement about who pocketed the extra $75,000, Trump or Benton, or if they split the money. My guess is that Trump didn't split anything with anyone and that he pocketed the cash and that this $100,000 transaction was just the tip of a mammoth iceberg.