GOP operative pardoned by Trump convicted of funneling Russian money to Trump campaign

Jesse Benton, a former top aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), was convicted Thursday of helping a Russian citizen illegally funnel a political donation to former President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Benton, 44, purchased a $25,000 ticket to a September 2016 Republican National Committee event for Trump and gave the ticket to Russian multilevel marketer Roman Vasilenko. Vasilenko then gave Benton $100,000.

This is Benton’s second conviction for campaign finance violations. In May 2016, he was found guilty of illegally facilitating the transfer of $73,000 to an Iowa state senator in exchange for endorsing Ron Paul during his 2012 presidential bid. Trump pardoned Benton in December 2020, soon before leaving office.

Yahoo GOP operative pardoned by Trump convicted of funneling Russian money to Trump campaign