Mitch McConnell's campaign manager steps down
August 29th, 2014
07:32 PM ET
7 years 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."

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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. rtrauben

    Lets hope McConnell and Boehner join Eric Cantor in the dust bin come November.

    August 29, 2014 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  2. Tampa Tim

    You would think turtle would have done a better job vetting his campaign manager. Mitch is just another overpaid republican do nothing.

    August 29, 2014 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  3. Sashatree

    THANK YOU FOR BREAKING THIS STORY, RACHEL MADDOW!!!! She's been pushing it for the past 2 nights on her show - glad CNN picked it up!!

    August 29, 2014 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  4. Gary Williams

    Politics is a waste of time and money... It will be the downfall of our country as long as money is involved.... People look at money instead of what the candidate can do for the state. Very sad......

    August 29, 2014 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  5. AJ

    Mitch doesn't have a prayer. We need someone who can unite both parties. Concentrate on the economy, stand up for our allies, and stop handing out free money to countries that don't like us.

    August 29, 2014 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  6. SteveInMN

    Ah, The Morality Play that is The Republiban!

    August 29, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  7. von volts

    bye, bye Mcconell.

    August 29, 2014 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  8. David H. Thoreau

    Note the pattern of corruption. Ron Paul didn't know? Bachman didn't know? McConnell didn't know? "Nobody was driving officer. We were all in the back seat."

    August 29, 2014 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  9. ja

    Chickens are coming to roost

    August 29, 2014 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  10. rick

    There is probably a lot more to this than just changing jobs. And will slowly be known why. If ever to public. Not supprizing that many other in same positions with other candidates havnt did same move. We shall see...

    August 29, 2014 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  11. luke, AZ

    The Mitch boat is starting to take on water.

    August 29, 2014 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  12. joel holtzman

    typical religious scoundrel: quote the bible.

    August 29, 2014 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  13. Gary

    With a heavy heart, I am jumping this sinking ship before it destroys my career. I mean I was so good getting Ron Paul elected and all.

    August 29, 2014 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  14. Joe

    And so, the thread begins to unravel. Bye bye Mitch. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    August 29, 2014 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  15. kamarasune

    No worries McConnell has it in the bag. Kentucky loves him.

    August 29, 2014 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  16. Julia

    Seriously, who didn't see this coming? Repubs are self destructing!

    August 29, 2014 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  17. korkea aika

    By association with Michelle Bachman, this person has disqualified himself from ever being taken seriously. No thinking human being would be associated with Michelle Bachman, period.

    August 29, 2014 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  18. TNPatriot

    Rats are always the first to run from a sinking ship.

    August 29, 2014 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  19. darksock

    You lie with dogs, you get fleas.

    August 29, 2014 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  20. Winston5

    McConnell's going down in Nov.

    August 29, 2014 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  21. JT Holmes

    McConnell is the biggest cancer on this planet. No fool like an old redneck fool. Unless you're his Oriental wife that is. Sugar daddy 101.

    August 29, 2014 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  22. Thomas

    Rand Paul and Jesse Benton understand the importance of Aquabuddha mindfulness , and the economic rewards that come with being the chosen male Diva in 2016 .

    Few are called , and fewer return calls !

    August 29, 2014 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  23. Mario

    No wonder Republicans believe that voters fraud exist
    They are the only perpetrators

    August 30, 2014 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  24. stevetall

    Not to worry. This scum will find some right-winger doofus to give him money.

    August 30, 2014 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  25. Peter Gerdeman

    Who is surprised by this? The turtle is about to get his comeuppance... still a loser after all these years.

    August 30, 2014 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
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