Sen. Mitch McConnell's Campaign Manager Quits in Scandal Fallout

Image: Jesse Benton
Jesse Benton arrives at a campaign event honoring veterans at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, Dec. 28, 2011. AP file

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's campaign manager resigned Friday amid fallout from a scandal in Iowa involving a presidential campaign he worked for in 2012. Jesse Benton said he didn't want to become a distraction as McConnell tries to win a tough re-election campaign in Kentucky.

"This decision breaks my heart, but I know it is the right thing for Mitch, for Kentucky and for the country," Benton said in a statement. Benton's resignation comes barely two months before Kentucky voters choose between McConnell, the top-ranking Senate Republican, and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

In Iowa this week, former state Sen. Kent Sorenson pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from his switch of support from one Republican presidential candidate to another before the 2012 Iowa caucuses. He received thousands of dollars in "under the table payments" before switching loyalties from candidate Michele Bachmann, whose Iowa campaign he headed, to candidate Ron Paul, then lied to federal investigators about the money, the Justice Department said. Prosecutors refused to say which campaign paid Sorenson.

Benton, a tea party insider, worked as a top aide to Paul. He said rumors of any wrongdoing were "politically motivated, unfair and, most importantly, untrue."


— The Associated Press