Rand Paul

Judge dismisses four of five charges against former Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell aide

Jesse Benton
Jesse Benton 2011 Associated Press File Photo

A federal judge dismissed four of the five counts against Jesse Benton on Friday, ruling that the U.S. Department of Justice violated an agreement with the former aide to U.S. Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell by using his statements to obtain an indictment.

Benton, who also was a longtime aide to former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, resigned last year as campaign manager for McConnell's re-election campaign amid an investigation into allegations that Benton and others involved with Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign bribed an Iowa state senator to switch allegiances and then concealed the payments.

Benton and another Republican operative, John Tate, took leaves of absence from leading Rand Paul's super PAC after they were indicted this summer.

On Friday, Judge John A. Jarvey dismissed four counts — dealing with falsifying campaign documents and conspiracy — after Benton and Tate argued that the federal government used their statements against them in grand jury proceedings despite an agreement not to.

A charge against Benton for allegedly lying to the FBI was not dismissed.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice said the agency plans to proceed with its case against Benton on that count, and that it has the option of getting new indictments against Benton on the other charges.

"The government is free to proceed to trial — and informed the court today that it will proceed to trial — on the remaining counts," Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said. "The decision regarding the dismissed counts will be made at a later date post-trial."

Benton, Tate and GOP operative Dimitri Kesari were accused of bribing Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson with $78,000 to switch his endorsement from former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's campaign to Ron Paul's in the final days of the 2012 Iowa caucuses.