LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager is resigning as a result of a scandal involving a presidential campaign he worked for in 2012.
Jesse Benton said Friday he’s stepping down from his top role in the Republican senator’s re-election effort.
Benton calls the decision heartbreaking but the right one to keep the matter from becoming a distraction in Kentucky’s Senate campaign.
His announcement stems from a political scandal in Iowa. This week, a former Iowa lawmaker pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from his switch of support from one Republican presidential candidate to another before the 2012 Iowa caucuses.
Former state Sen. Kent Sorenson received thousands of dollars in “under the table payments” before switching loyalties from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul.
Benton was Paul’s political director at the time.
Benton’s full statement released by the campaign is below:
There is no more important cause for both Kentucky, my new home I have come to love, and our country than electing Mitch McConnell Majority Leader of the United States Senate. I believe this deep in my bones, and I would never allow anything or anyone to get in the way.
That includes myself.
Recently, there have been inaccurate press accounts and unsubstantiated media rumors about me and my role in past campaigns that are politically motivated, unfair and, most importantly, untrue. I hope those who know me recognize that I strive to be a man of integrity.
The press accounts and rumors are particularly hurtful because they are false.
However, what is most troubling to me is that they risk unfairly undermining and becoming a distraction to this reelection campaign.
Working for Mitch McConnell is one of the great honors of my life. He is a friend, a mentor and a great man this commonwealth desperately needs. I cannot, and will not, allow any possibility that my circumstances will effect the voters’ ability to hear his message and assess his record. This election is far too important and the stakes way too high.
With a heavy heart, I offered Sen. McConnell my resignation this afternoon and he reluctantly accepted. Effective Saturday, August 30th, I will no longer be the “Team Mitch” campaign manager.
The good news is that most of my work has been done. We have built a top flight team of incredible people that are working tirelessly to ensure Mitch’s re-election. They are a finely oiled machine and will not skip a beat without me.
This decision breaks my heart, but I know it is the right thing for Mitch, for Kentucky and for the country.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”