Three Members of Ron Paul 2012 Presidential Campaign Staff Guilty of Concealing Campaign Expenditures
May 6, 2016 - 11:08 AM
DES MOINES, IOWA - Three
members of former Senator Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign committee were convicted by a
federal jury in Des Moines, Iowa, on all counts of an indictment
charging the concealment of campaign expenditures made to secure the
endorsement of an Iowa State Senator.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice
Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director in Charge Paul M.
Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
“Concealing and falsely reporting campaign expenditures undermines
the integrity and transparency of the federal election process,” said
Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “When political operatives
secretly buy an elected official’s political support, it undermines
public confidence in our entire political system.”
“Violating campaign finance transparency laws by falsifying
expenditure records and reports deceives the public and facilitates
corruption,” said Assistant Director in Charge Abbate. “The FBI will
aggressively investigate those who corrupt the integrity of our
democratic process. I want to thank the special agents, analysts and
prosecutors who worked diligently to see this case through to today’s
Jesse R. Benton, 38, of Louisville, Kentucky, and John M. Tate, 53,
of Warrenton, Virginia, were convicted of conspiracy, causing false
records to obstruct a contemplated investigation, causing the submission
of false campaign expenditure reports to the Federal Election
Commission (FEC) and engaging in a scheme to make false statements to
the FEC. Dimitrios N. Kesari, 50, of Leesburg, Virginia, was convicted
of the same offenses, except causing false campaign expenditure reports,
for which he was previously convicted by a jury in a separate trial in
Chief Judge John A. Jarvey of the Southern District of Iowa noted that he would schedule sentencing for a later date.
The defendants were the senior leadership of a campaign for Paul in the 2012 presidential election. According to the
indictment, former Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson initially supported
one candidate in the 2012 presidential election, but between October and
December 2011, negotiated with the defendants to switch his support to
their candidate in exchange for money. On December 28, 2011, at a
political event in Des Moines, Iowa, Sorenson publicly announced his
switch of support.
Evidence at trial proved that the campaign expenditures to Sorenson
were made in monthly installments of approximately $8,000 each and
ultimately amounted to over $70,000. The defendants concealed the
payments by causing them to be recorded – both in campaign accounting
records and in FEC filings – as campaign-related audio-visual
expenditures, and by causing them to be transmitted to a film production
company and then to a second company that was controlled by Sorenson.
The conspirators concealed their campaign’s payments to Sorenson from
their candidate and also from the FEC, the FBI, and the public.
Trial evidence showed that in response to criticism of Sorenson’s
change of support from one candidate to the other, the conspirators
arranged for Sorenson to issue public statements denying allegations
that he was offered money for his endorsement and noting that the
campaign committee’s FEC filings would show that it made no payments to
On August 27, 2014, Sorenson pled guilty to causing a campaign
committee to falsely report its expenditures to the FEC and to
obstruction of justice. He has not yet been sentenced.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office,
with assistance from the Omaha, Nebraska, Field Office and the Des
Moines Resident Agency. The case is being prosecuted by Director
Richard C. Pilger of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section’s
Election Crimes Branch, Deputy Chief J.P. Cooney, and Trial Attorney
Jonathan I. Kravis.
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