The verdict is in on Jesse Benton. The former Paul aide has been acquitted of all charges against him by a federal jury.
Benton (married to Rand Paul’s niece) has been found completely innocent of charges that he funneled campaign funds to an Iowa senator during Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. That funds were inappropriately used is not in question. What is in question is why the former Paul aide was targeted, given his importance in Rand’s current presidential bid, and the timing of the federal indictment. We’ve had our suspicions on this even before the acquittal.
Ron Paul has been blunt about the carefully orchestrated timing of the trial. According to The Des Moines Register, Ron Paul told jurors earlier this month that prosecutors intentionally timed the indictment just before the first Republican primary debate to damage his son’s presidential bid.
How would the indictment hurt Rand? Jesse Benton was running a Super PAC in support of Rand’s run for the presidency and was forced to step down temporarily to deal with the charges against him. Couple that with the obvious shadow it casts on Rand’s campaign in general and it is easy to see how others in the race would profit.
Following the acquittal, Benton’s attorney, Roscoe Howard, stated simply:
“We are pleased to learn that Jesse Benton has been vindicated today of wrongdoing. . . The jury members worked diligently through the information presented to them and their decision reinforces that he was wrongly charged – and always has been.” (Washington Post)
It is of note that prosecutors had already determined that neither Ron nor Rand Paul had anything to do with the corruption being investigated. It may have been federal prosecutors’ hopes that Ron Paul would incriminate Benton, but his belief in Benton’s innocence seems well placed now.
No doubt, looking to put the matter behind him and focus ahead, Rand stated simply:
“I am happy that justice has been served.” (CNN)
We’re happy as well. Yet, it begs the question what justice should be given to Jesse Benton, who had his work and good name damaged by the indictment? This is particularly true if this was simply a political maneuver to damage Rand Paul’s presidential bid. And we’re still counting the damage done to America’s Liberty PAC as Benton was forced to leave the helm for several months.
Written by Mark Davis
(Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)
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