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. Johnkc

    They are all crooks!

    August 30, 2014 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  2. Anton

    The way to get elected if you are a Replicant.

    Pay money.

    Let us not help people.

    Let us only help ourselves.

    Almost time for a revolution.

    August 30, 2014 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  3. nemo0037

    Hope the people of Kentucky decide to do the right thing and DITCH MITCH. He's been nothing but a millstone around the neck of this country for the past 6 years.

    August 30, 2014 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  4. Maripil

    Benton and McConnell are one and the same! Both are corrupt!!!

    August 30, 2014 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  5. jm

    James 16:33? How embarrassing!

    August 30, 2014 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  6. mique

    First sign of a sinking boat.

    August 30, 2014 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  7. @RI_Roger

    This is a none issue only CNN sees as a story....fits into their new "Tabloid Journalism" philosophy.

    August 30, 2014 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  8. foundstar

    These guys and 'gals' are like watching a infestation of rats all scurrying around snarling, biting, attacking one and all. Everytime you turn around something disgusting and viscous is committed by them...

    August 30, 2014 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  9. JohnNFlorida

    CNN should have included the applicable parts of Sorenson's Plea Agreement where Benton was cited. IF there were lies, as asserted by Benton, the Judge should strike down the plea agreement as being fictitious in it's statement of facts.

    August 30, 2014 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  10. ABRISTOL@ELP.RR.COM

    What a crock of you know what. This man was involved in 3 campaigns were money was exchanged for votes, ready to move on to a 4th this one being a Presidential campaign. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?. Knowing what I know now I wouldn't vote for either Paul, (Sr. or Jr.) for dog catcher. And of course Sen McConnel knew this. He was hoping this would not come to light. He was desperate to get this guy in his campaign, he needed to KY Teaparty vote.

    August 30, 2014 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  11. BobK

    Are these guys for real? Honesty, integrity mean nothing to them.

    I can't wait to see the diversionary issue McConnell will come with this weekend. Maybe he'll join with Peter King about how President Obama is actually gay, beats his wife, and abuses dogs because he wore a tan suit.

    August 30, 2014 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  12. J Anthony

    Good for him, that ship is sinking, McConnell is a tool. The entire Repub/Dem establishment is a plutocratic stranglehold. What will it take for people to wake up and demand change? Until candidates start honestlytalking about the institutionalized usury that is our monetary-system, none of them are worth a single vote.

    August 30, 2014 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  13. KieranH

    Good, get out.

    August 30, 2014 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  14. Arnold Yooper

    Isn't that just shocking news! I would say that kind of stuff goes on more than we voters know. But then again, I don't think a lot of voters give a hoot!!! How sad is that?

    August 30, 2014 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  15. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    HILARIOUS watching the Guns Over People tea potty walk the plank toward another November. Allison has Turtle AND his campaign manager on the run.

    August 30, 2014 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  16. Peevee

    "my role in past campaigns that are politically motivated, unfair and, most importantly, untrue. "

    Hasn't this 'man' dedicated his life to being a Political Operative?!

    everything he's ever said or done was 'politically motivated, unfair and, most importantly, untrue'.

    He makes a living at it.

    August 30, 2014 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  17. Marie MD

    Looking for a new job already? Aaawww, that's too bad.
    Is that "commonwealth" or "wealth" thanks for his wife?
    That James 16:33 quote touches my heart NOT!

    August 30, 2014 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  18. Jason

    Rats, sinking ship, enough said!

    August 30, 2014 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  19. liz

    Working for Mitch McConnell one of the greatest honors of his life, really ?

    August 30, 2014 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  20. quieteye

    In US people will still vote for tribe, dysfunction and corruption.
    Then complain about the impacts.
    Electorate is as bi-polar as Congress they vote for.

    August 30, 2014 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  21. dragnet767

    "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."

    Which means he'll be indicted next week.

    August 30, 2014 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  22. terry b

    If ever the word "Buffoon" had a person who it so perfectly describes it would be this horrible excuse for a senator. If Kentucky has a majority of ignorant voters then McConnell will win again. Hopefully that is not the case. Maybe we could get Ashley Judd to campaign for his opponent. Anything to get rid of this obstructionist horses ass from the senate.

    August 30, 2014 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  23. caeser

    "Lots of luck to ya Mitch but i gots ta go"...."over to the paul campaign".

    August 30, 2014 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  24. gypsyalso

    bible verse was a nice touch.

    August 30, 2014 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  25. v2787

    Ho hum–more republican election shenanigans and dirty tricks appear to be in the wind, with GOP campaign managers doing all sorts of sneaky, underhanded things to steal elections . McConnell and his ilk are such lowlifes–it's astounding how any thinking person could possibly vote for a republican politician after the way they've hurt middle America since the Reagan years.

    August 30, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
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