Two longtime Republican operatives indicted — and there's a Russia connection: report
Reuters legal reporter Jan Wolfe revealed Monday evening that two Republican Party operatives have been indicted after helping Russians donate to political campaigns in 2016.
The Justice Department revealed in a statement that Kentucky's Jesse Benton and Florida's Roy Douglas "Doug" Wead were "charged with one count of conspiracy to solicit and cause an illegal campaign contribution by a foreign national, effect a conduit contribution, and cause false records to be filed with the FEC, one count of contribution by a foreign national, one count of contribution in the name of another and three counts of making false entries in an official record."
Benton was just pardoned by former President Donald Trump for a bribery scandal while working for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in Iowa in 2012. In that scheme, Benton and colleague John Tate bribed state officials to change their endorsements to Paul for the Iowa Caucus.
After being pardoned for that, Benton is now being indicted again along with Wead for arranging for a Russian National who wanted to donate to a 2016 presidential campaign to be able to meet with the candidate.
Developing: Two longtime GOP operatives have been indicted. They allegedly helped a Russian make a campaign contribution to Trump in 2016.\n\nOne of the defendants, Jesse Benton, managed campaigns for Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell. He got a Trump pardon (for an unrelated scheme).pic.twitter.com/DWiTuJJsxa— Jan Wolfe (@Jan Wolfe) 1632178809
"Benton reached out to individuals at Political Committee B, the national party committee for Political Candidate 1's political party," the indictment explains. "He then arranged for Foreign National 1 to attend a political fundraising event and get a photograph with Political Candidate 1, in exchange for a political contribution to Political Committee C, a joint fundraising committee comprised of the campaign committee for Political Candidate 1, Political Committee B, and related state committees. Foreign National 1 ultimately wired $100,000 to Company A, a political consulting firm owned by Benton."
He then tried to disguise the wire transfer by labeling it "consulting services" and crafted a "cover story."
Wead went to the fundraiser with the foreign national Sept. 22, 2016 with a translator (Foreign National 2). They all three had their photos taken with the candidate.
"Following the event, Benton repeatedly represented to a consultant working for Political Committee B and Political Committee C that he had already sent the promised contribution for the event, but in actuality he delayed sending the contribution," said the DOJ. "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. Because Benton falsely claimed to have given the contribution himself, three different political committees unwittingly filed reports with the FEC that inaccurately reported Benton, rather than Foreign National 1, as the source of the funds."
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