McConnell campaign manager resigns amid scandal speculation - News, Weather & Sports

McConnell campaign manager resigns amid scandal speculation

Jesse Benton Jesse Benton
EDITOR'S NOTE: The copy below has been edited to clarify how the call with a McConnell spokeswoman was terminated.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Sen. Mitch McConnell's campaign manager has resigned amid allegations of misconduct in a previous campaign.

In the statement issued just after 6 p.m. Friday, Jesse Benton denied wrongdoing but said he didn't want to become a distraction to McConnell's reelection effort.

Questions are swirling about how much Benton knew about an “endorsement-for-pay” scandal involving Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign, which Benton managed. A former Iowa state senator pleaded guilty Wednesday to accepting a bribe and switching his allegiance to Paul from Michele Bachmann.

“I cannot, and will not, allow any possibility that my circumstances will affect the voters' ability to hear (McConnell's) message,” Benton said in the statement. “This election is far too important.”

It was not immediately clear how Benton's position would be filled. An adviser, Josh Holmes, has been handling many of the media duties recently.

When WAVE 3 News requested a comment, a McConnell spokeswoman, Allison Moore, ended a phone call abruptly, saying she had to take another call. She sent an email saying she would call back but then did not.

Benton said in the statement that his resignation, which he submitted Friday afternoon, was effective Saturday. No statement was included from McConnell on the situation.

Benton has denied involvement in the bribery scandal, in which Kent Sorenson received $73,000 to switch to Paul's campaign in the 2012 Iowa Republican caucus race.

“The press accounts and rumors are particularly hurtful because they are false,” Benton said Friday. “However, what is most troubling to me is that they risk unfairly undermining and becoming a distraction to this reelection campaign.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said its probe remains open, sparking rumors that Benton could be implicated.

“Sen. McConnell owes the people of Kentucky a full account of what he knew and when he knew it,” said Charly Norton, a spokeswoman for Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell's opponent in the U.S. Senate race.

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Additional links:

Department of Justice Press Release

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