A former senior aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul was indicted this month for allegedly funneling $25,000 from a wealthy, unnamed Russian to former President Trump’s reelection efforts.
The big picture: The Justice Department alleges that Jesse Benton, 43, the husband of Paul’s niece and a veteran Republican staffer, orchestrated a scheme to conceal the illegal foreign donation with another GOP operative, Doug Wead.
The details: The indictment, unsealed on Monday, outlines allegations of a convoluted money trail from the unnamed Russian national through a consulting firm run by Benton and to a Trump joint fundraising committee.
- The Russian national was determined to underwrite a Trump fundraising event in order to get a photo with the former president, according to communications between Benton and Weed cited in the indictment.
- The indictment alleges that Benton received $100,000 from the Russian national and passed on $25,000 to the joint fundraising committee, allegedly pocketing the remaining $75,000.
- Wead and Benton each face six criminal charges, including conspiracy and abetting illegal foreign political contributions.
For the record: Efforts to reach Wead were not immediately successful. Benton did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
- Benton was previously convicted of filing false statements in connection with a scheme to funnel money from Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign to an influential Iowa politician who backed Paul in the state’s presidential caucus.
- Trump pardoned Benton in December, shortly before leaving office.