Trump Super PAC Strategist Convicted In Bribery Scandal

A key figure in the pro-Trump Great America PAC has been found guilty of criminal conspiracy today for campaign finance violations during the 2012 presidential election. Jesse Benton, a former political strategist for Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential run, was found guilty of conspiracy, causing false records, creating false campaign expenditure reports, and making false statements.

Benton currently works as a strategist for the pro-Trump Great America Super PAC, but the Trump finance team has not confirmed whether or not Benton will remain a part of the Great America PAC after his conviction today.

Benton was charged along with two other former Ron Paul aides, John Tate and Dimitri Kesari. The trio allegedly planned to pay an Iowa state senator in exchange for his endorsement of the Ron Paul campaign, which is in violation of campaign finance rules.

Politico reports that Jesse Benton currently serves as the chief strategist for the pro-Trump Great America PAC, he reportedly came aboard the Trump Super PAC back in March.

“There is a growing movement behind Donald Trump, bringing new voters to the GOP in an unprecedented way. Great America PAC will help grow and harness that movement, unify Republicans and work to win not just the White House but to also lengthen Mr. Trump’s coattails in races across [sic] the America,” wrote Jesse Benton, the chief strategist for the Great America PAC, a pro-Trump Super PAC.

Earlier this week, Politico reported on the Great America Super PAC as Donald Trump started to gear up for a tough and expensive general election fight against Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. The Trump campaign has been largely self-financed until this point in the race, but even Donald Trump admits that he’s going to need help to out-spend the Democratic Party this November.

Ed Rollins, a former Ronald Reagan strategist, joined the pro-Trump Great America PAC earlier this week, signaling to political observers that the general election financial fight has already begun. Super PACs on both sides are working to attract high-powered political operatives like Rollins ahead of a tough general election fight.

“I’m not ready to roll over and play dead and allow Hillary Clinton to be president,” said Ed Rollins, speaking with Politico shortly after joining the Great America PAC.

Under Rollins, Jesse Benton served as a chief strategist for the Great America PAC, but it’s unclear if today’s conviction will have any effect on his ability to contribute to the pro-Trump Super PAC in light of the guilty verdict in his criminal case.

Ed Rollins and the Great America PAC have not responded to requests for comment from the Washington Post or Politico.

It’s not the first time Jesse Benton’s conduct has caused trouble for the self-described “political operative.” Back in 2013, Benton served as the campaign manager for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“I’m doing something else, man. I am, between you and me, I’m sort of holding my nose for two years because what we’re doing here is going to be a big thing for Rand [Paul] in 2016,” said Jesse Benton, currently a strategist for the pro-Trump Great America PAC.

Benton later resigned from the McConnell campaign after an associate pled guilty in the Iowa campaign finance case. Benton allegedly attempted to bribe a GOP state senator into supporting Ron Paul instead of his opponent, Michelle Bachmann.

“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,” said Benton in a statement just after his resignation from the McConnell campaign.

It’s unclear at this point whether or not Benton will resign yet again after being convicted of campaign finance violations for his role in a bribery scheme during the 2012 presidential election.

[Photo by Charles Dharapak/AP Images]

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