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. Lizzie

    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."
    -and the President gets his news from CNN

    August 30, 2014 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  2. Lizzie

    Thom. This is a Government BY THE PEOPLE< FOR THE PEOPLE....
    Ain't that the truth, democrats make sure to take from those who still work to give to those who followed Pelosi's advice and quit their job to let the government take care of them.

    August 30, 2014 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  3. Iamnotfooled

    GOP= CORRUPTION= Cheat to win mentality.
    Bob McDonnell
    Chris Christie
    Scott Walker
    Rick Scott
    Rick Perry
    Mitch McConnel
    And the rest that have not been caught yet.

    August 31, 2014 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  4. Jersey Girl

    Ummm...It is quite obvious, the quote was researched...not actually something that he ever read and it truly touched his heart...otherwise he might know that James only has five chapters, and this verse if found in the gospel of John. lol....I'm not trying to be a religious bully....but good Lord.

    August 31, 2014 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  5. Thomas

    Make him a one term Aquabunny !

    August 31, 2014 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  6. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Guns Over People tea potty wingnuts are arrogant enough to think that they will win the Senate . They also KNEW that Twit Romney would win by a landslide two years ago. November comes quickly for all of them.

    August 31, 2014 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  7. Name

    what can the repub do for this country. their tax cuts for the rich, only resulted in a huge vacuuming of money from our economy to the kayman, and Swiss account to the sum of nearly 4 trillion. yet our 1940s and 50s infrastructure is crumbling down all around us. the repubs will quickly say those rich folks are hoarding trillions because Obama taxes are too high, bull crap. some corporations pay less than 0 percent. that money is to invest in up and coming coutries like china and india, whose spenders out number us 8 to 1. that money will never see American shores again, even if taxes goes to 0 percent. we need to find a way to get some of that money before it leaves our shores.

    August 31, 2014 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  8. MaryM

    Surprise, Surprise. unscrupulous republicans again. Just look at the republican Governors in trouble now.
    Bob McDonnell...is going to prison...followed by Rick Perry, Scott "Pay-to-Play" Walker...Chris Christie, and Rick "Skelator" Scott of Florida ..

    August 31, 2014 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  9. Anonymous

    Gosh. This dude is something. He even manages to align himself with the Lord at the end of his heart rendering "I did nothing wrong" speech. Hopefully, Mitch McConnell becomes a no more term Senator for HIS audacity in keeping Benton on for as long as he has knowing full well this man was unscrupulous from the get go. Kentucky first my foot. America first my foot. For shame, Mitch McConnell. For shame.

    August 31, 2014 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  10. Anonymous

    "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."

    Any comment, Rand Paul? Benton took down Michele Bachmann. Dude aligned himself with Ron Paul. Dude now creates havoc for Mitch McConnell. There is a story here for a journalist worth his salt to pursue, especially considering the Paul family benefited from this man through his TeaParty co-horts time and again, while the media pretends there is no corruption within the GOP/TeaParty itself.

    August 31, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  11. Chris..E.Al

    Whats the big deal anyway ? PPL quit and get fired all the time unless you work under the big lie ane chief Could it be that 0bama maybe worried the truth may come out if he did so ? Yup .

    August 31, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  12. Gunderson

    Whazzat?,
    Instead of gossiping about who may be passing money to who you better watch where your hard earned income and tax dollars are going. If your friend, and mine has his way, you will be supporting another 200,000 illegals. The Liberal's are hoping you won't notice that all the illegals flooding the southern border are being farmed out all over the country and helping themselves to your tax dollars. Corporations are leaving the country because of intelligent voters passing the buck and raising the national debt. After all they don't think they will be paying the bill. Guess again.

    August 31, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  13. Tampa Tim

    Gunnysack – It is just like you to forget about the republcan reign of error, the unnecessary wars, the tax cuts for the wealthy, the record job loss, the Great Recession, the government shutdown, etc., where our hard earned tax dollars and money was wasted by worthless republicans who were intent on destroying America.

    August 31, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  14. Tampa Tim

    If if had all my savings in confederate dollars, like the brain dead RWNJs who post here, I would lie like a republican, too.

    August 31, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  15. Gunderson

    Uh,
    "Tampon Tim", Just a Point of Order. After 911, if Bush had done nothing, and we were attacked again, all the Liberal's would be screaming, Why didn't he do something. So, "Tampon Tim", Bush was dammed if he did and dammed if he didn't.
    While is will always be debated, some think Franklin Deleno Roosevelt let Pearl Harbor be attacked so he could get us the U.S. into the war. The Famous Speech, A DAY OF INFAMY, was given the very next day, just like it was already written and ready to go. Hell, i don't know.

    And it was Lyndon Johnson that got us into the shooting war in Vietnam. Was the wars in Afganastan and Iraq necessary? Isolationism was the rule of the day until we were attacked at Pearl Harbor. I know you are sticking your head in the sand but the Militant Muslums will attack us anyway they can. Before 911, they drove a truck bomb under the World Trade Center in 1993, when your boy Bill Clinton was in office. Open your eyes. You think the government can pass a few bills and everything will be fixed. Gawd are you optimistic!

    August 31, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  16. Longtimer

    Gunderson
    Whazzat?,
    Instead of gossiping about who may be passing money to who you better watch where your hard earned income and tax dollars are going. If your friend, and mine has his way, you will be supporting another 200,000 illegals. The Liberal's are hoping you won't notice that all the illegals flooding the southern border are being farmed out all over the country and helping themselves to your tax dollars. Corporations are leaving the country because of intelligent voters passing the buck and raising the national debt. After all they don't think they will be paying the bill. Guess again.
    _________________
    Do you ever get tired of making no sense whatsoever? Fact-free and on fire! Keep it up son.

    August 31, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  17. Tampa Tim

    Gunnysack – Your hero, Lil Bush, will be remembered in history as the most inept president in history. Asleep at the switch, clueless, vindictive, are mild descriptors of W. I can see you are back to blaming everyone else for republican failures. Sounds like Fox is blaming Roosevelt for WWII. Keep pushing republican fear. You are afraid of children, Ebola, seniors, veterans, poor, students, American workers, Muslims, gays, and spiders. Get you empty skull out of the sand.

    Your pal,

    Tim

    August 31, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  18. Tampa Tim

    Breaking news! Some how the brain dead are going to blame LBJ for 9-11.

    August 31, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. Bigwilliestyles

    Nixon-Watergate, Reagan-Iran/Contra, GW Bush-WMDs, Plame. Republicans love criminals instinctively.

    August 31, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  20. Thomas

    Rand Paul is better at Twister them Mitch McConnell , and Rand can Dance .

    August 31, 2014 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  21. Gunderson

    Humm,
    What's that giant swishing sound coming from up north. It couldn't be Burger King, could it? What's that Giant Swooshing sound coming from Mexico? It couldn't be another Auto Company building it's next plant in Mexico, could it? Well somebody must have some brains. Old Adage. Beggers can't be choosers but they try. And for sure, if Wishes Were Horses, Beggers would Ride. Gitty up, horse!

    August 31, 2014 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  22. Tampa Tim

    Gunnysack – Ever wonder how Mittens and Bain made their big bucks?

    September 1, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  23. Gunderson

    Uh, Well,
    How did Mittens and Bain make their money? Who cares. You ain't gonna get any of it, except where the Liberal's "Steal" it, legally, called Taxation and "Spread The Wealth". So, T,T, are you a Fugitive from the Northeast? I bet you are.

    September 1, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  24. Tampa Tim

    Gunnysack – Let me help you. Bain and Mittens bought out American companies, sold off parts of them, put American workers out of jobs, and shipped those jobs overseas. Who cares? Obviously not RWNJs.

    September 1, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. Tampa Tim

    It's Labor Day! It's a bad day for billionaires and RWNJs, when we celebrate those things that American Workers have achieved: Overtime, retirement benefits, child labor laws, work safety regulations, and so much more.

    September 1, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
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