Mitch McConnell's campaign manager steps down
August 29th, 2014
07:32 PM ET
2 weeks ago

Mitch McConnell's campaign manager steps down

(CNN) – A little more than two months before Election Day, Sen. Mitch McConnell's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, stepped down Friday, resigning amid a long-brewing controversy involving Benton's ties to Ron Paul's presidential bid in 2012.

"With a heavy heart, I offered Sen. McConnell my resignation this afternoon and he reluctantly accepted," Benton said in a statement issued by McConnell's campaign. "Effective Saturday, August 30th, I will no longer be the 'Team Mitch' campaign manager."

Benton was chairman of Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign. This week a former Iowa state senator, Kent Sorenson, pleaded guilty in federal court to accepting payment from Paul's campaign in exchange for supporting the former Texas congressman ahead of the Iowa GOP presidential caucuses in January 2012.

It's unknown whether Benton was aware of those payments, but according to the Washington Post there have been media reports indicating Benton was involved in the courting of Sorenson.

Sorenson had previously been a supporter of rival Rep. Michele Bachmann's campaign - from whom he also accepted money, he admitted - and his departure was considered a controversial move at the time.

Benton did not elaborate on the issue or mention Sorenson by name in his statement, only saying, "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."

"However, what is most troubling to me is that they risk unfairly undermining and becoming a distraction to this reelection campaign," he added, referring to McConnell's campaign.

The Senate Republican leader is in a tight race against Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky.

Ron Paul's son, Sen. Rand Paul, is currently laying the groundwork for a presidential bid of his own. Benton served as Rand Paul's campaign manager in his 2010 Senate campaign in Kentucky.

Last year Benton made headlines after a secretly recorded phone call was made public, in which Benton had expressed half-hearted support for McConnell, his boss, and eagerness to move on to Rand Paul's team in 2016.

In his statement Friday, Benton said working for McConnell has been "one of the great honors" of his life and described him as a "friend."

A spokesman for Rand Paul had no comment on the recent news involving Sorenson and Benton.

Benton's full statement:

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.

James 16:33

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."


Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Mitch McConnell • Ron Paul
soundoff (156 Responses)
  1. Longtimer

    just asking
    Longtimer
    Chris..E.Al
    Of course jobs are being shipped overseas companies are being badgered by leftist government regulations and the threat of dems wanting to tax the companies unto they are bankrupt or need a gov takeover .
    ++++++++++++++
    So why doesn't the GOP change the laws that allow companies benefit from being overseas- oh, yeah, they hate America.
    -

    because democrats control two thirds of the government. where is the presidential leadership? oh yeah, obama's been calling companies unpatriotic. there's your 'leadership'. leftist attack rhetoric.
    +++++++++++
    You lie!
    The GOP controls the House, and the GOP demands supermajority votes in the Senate. Face it he Democrats would support such a law, the GOP won't- besides it is easier to lie and do nothing than actually work.

    September 1, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  2. rs

    it must be said
    While ISIS runs wild, Obama's policy is ISIT, and twiddle thumbs, deeply worried I might have to do something. Who can I blame for this?
    _______________
    It must be said- this is baloney. The GOP certainly has no plans for the IS, AND when the President asks for their support for action (after their 5 week vacation), they'll fold just like they did when he asked for their support on Syria.
    The GOP=spineless whiny chicken hawks.

    September 1, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. John R

    Is this a surprise to anyone? McConnell didn't keep his office this long, supposedly representing one of the poorest states in the USA yet being a leader of the party of the Koch brothers, who are billionaires against raising the minimum wage. He has kept his office by playing stooge to Big Oil and Big Kochs.

    September 1, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. Gunderson

    Aw, humm,
    Most likely Mitch is going to be Re-Elected, the Republicans are going to take the Senate, Retain the house and the Liberal's are going to end up on the Trash Heap of History. After 100 years and all of your Policies are Glaring Failures the people will have enough. Have a great day!!

    September 1, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  5. rs

    Gunderson
    Aw, humm,
    Most likely Mitch is going to be Re-Elected, the Republicans are going to take the Senate, Retain the house and the Liberal's are going to end up on the Trash Heap of History. After 100 years and all of your Policies are Glaring Failures the people will have enough. Have a great day!!
    __________________
    Even if this all happens- ever hear of the veto? Besides- to lead the GOP has to do stuff. This crowd makes welfare queens look productive. The GOP isn't going anywhere Gundy- so by all means keep spouting your crazy word salads.

    September 1, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  6. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    @Gunderson
    Aw, humm,
    Most likely Mitch is going to be Re-Elected, the Republicans are going to take the Senate, Retain the house and the Liberal's are going to end up on the Trash Heap of History. After 100 years and all of your Policies are Glaring Failures the people will have enough. Have a great day!!

    I was a little worried that Democrats would sit out this mid term election like they did in 2010. However, the feedback I get from news programs and online polling results is that the outrage over Republican do nothing and backwards politics have so many "libs" outraged, that we will be in very good shape in November. Voting these right wing Cretins out would be a dream come true!

    September 1, 2014 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
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