Mitch McConnell's campaign manager steps down
August 29th, 2014
07:32 PM ET
9 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."

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker'][twitter-follow screen_name='KilloughCNN']

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. Lampo

    Wow, so that's how Ron Paul got support: just bribed people.
    Looking forward to a Rand Paul candidacy. How much does he pay for a vote?

    August 30, 2014 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  2. Craig


    August 30, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  3. Solitairedog

    Crooks and liars motivated by greed and arrogance. Campaigns with too much money and not enough guidance become chained to the disgrace of bribery very quickly. Those chains are strong. They currently run our Congress.

    August 30, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  4. Larry38363

    If his own campaign manager is that excited about him, why should anyone else be. Time for this Domestic Terrorist to go!

    August 30, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  5. Reality Check

    The issue isn't weather this guy screwed up in a prior campaign, or that he isn't all that fond of McConnell. It's that McConnell has always come across as someone who would do whatever he is told by paymasters like, well, any big business group. The alleged behavior is exactly what people feel McConnell is all about. If Kentucky reelects McConnell they truly do not care about the sewer politics of this country.

    August 30, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  6. Longtimer

    It would be funny if the GOP pulled a rabbit out of the hat and took control of the Senate- but without Mr. McConnell. Too bad both have quite the battle ahead- that GOP hasn't done anything in 6 years- no accomplishment- no policy breakthrough- no change in their anti-minority, anti-woman policies- just hate, anger and lies. And in McConnell's case-corruption too.

    August 30, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  7. Jack

    Convicted by innuendo; Karl Rove's tactic. You deserve it! That has been the Republicans' main tactic recently!

    August 30, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. Lily

    Let him go and clear the way for Mitch McConnell. There is no any battle am looking forward to see the results like the Kentucky one. That special day when McConnell will realise that people have the power too. That will be my best day in this year like the one I celebrated when Sherry Angle of Nevada was pushed under the carpet.

    August 30, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. Doug

    What a pompous ass – a shady dealing campaign manager ending his resignation speech with a quote from the Bible. Please show me a professional politician – elected or appointed, I can admire.

    August 30, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  10. fred

    the gop culture of corruption continues.

    August 30, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  11. Jason

    We should start calling him by his real name....Mitch Koch. Repubs are toxic for americans and the end game seems to be aimed at making us sicker, fatter, dumber, and poorer in an effort to more easily control everything. When Americans are flat on their backs, its tougher to fight these insane politicians and regressive policies. However, the urge to fight back against them is growing in our society and i wouldnt be surprised if someone walks up to Mitch or Boehner or Gomert in public and flattens one them with a good old fashioned knuckle sandwich.

    August 30, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  12. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Time to make Mitch a "last term" Senator.

    August 30, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |

    Looks like the GOP boat is SINKING already and the GOP SLIMEBALL RATS are jumping ship already. fORGET ABOUT taking the senate, you will be lucky to keep the house in spite of your GOP gerrymandering , I'm not voting for ANY republican and don't know of anybody who is!!!!!

    August 30, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    I'm not surprised a Ron Paul operative was involved in bribery – money uber alles is the repub/tea bag/libertarian way.

    August 30, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  15. jboh

    The McConnell campaign hires a manager who worked for Ron Paul when he bribed someone eles manager to quit shortly before a primary, and hires the firm owned by the guy who made the bribe payment(in a mens room,how appropriate)as a strategic adviser. What do you expect from a crooked son of unmarried parents like she-dog McCONnell.

    August 30, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  16. Ian's Rushtache

    So wait, once more it is Republicans being caught engaging in illegal activities to effect elections.

    And somehow all their sheep are still convinced that it's always Dems.

    August 30, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  17. Gurgyl

    Folks, get rid of this old, no good junk, dirt bag with zero brain.

    August 30, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  18. Bigwilliestyles

    Republicans and illegal tactics-go together like a horse and carriage.

    August 30, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  19. Durr Adoya

    This is very simple to figure out –
    McConnell is about to go down for political corruption and his campaign manager jumped the ship before it sank.

    August 30, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  20. vikingwoman

    Bible scriptures won't help the GOTP or anyone working for them! It's disingenuous tripe! Also, the raiding of public/election coffers is just going to get worse because of Citizens United! It's been a mainstay in politics since the 1st recorded election, but it's much worse now, because now we're talking billions of dollars & more opportunities to be unscrupulous! This goes across the board, left or right, but let's face it, the GOTP has been unscrupulous, obstinate, obstructive & used extremely dirty tactics for the past 51/2 yrs! Don't see any of that slowing down!!

    August 30, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  21. Bigwilliestyles

    Of the last 4 republican president, only one wasn't caught doing some thing illegal IN OFFICE, GHW Bush...

    August 30, 2014 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  22. Bigwilliestyles

    ...Of the last 4 republican presidents, only 1 completely lost the support of the republicans, serving one term; guess who...

    August 30, 2014 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  23. Bigwilliestyles

    Republicans love criminals.

    August 30, 2014 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  24. belinda

    So McConnells Campaign Manager is directly tied to someone who was recently convicted of bribery ? A man who speaks about Grimes only in terms of she can't cut it ' because she's a woman, had better come up with something better than that. Women in Virginia should be insulted. Grimes stands up for working families. McConnell, only fights for Corporate Welfare. The Middle Class, is sick of it, because were the ones who have to dish out for what Corporations, do not pay for. What is that ? Everything. Infrastructure, highways, schools, hospitals. The Middle Class is being ripped off by Republicans and we are sick of it.

    August 30, 2014 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  25. Lizzie

    Wow, so that's how Ron Paul got support: just bribed people.
    Looking forward to a Rand Paul candidacy. How much does he pay for a vote?
    -apparently not as much as democrats.

    August 30, 2014 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7