WASHINGTON – A longtime Republican political consultant was sentenced to 18 months in jail Friday after arranging for a Russian nationwide to contribute illegally to former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign – the second time he’s been convicted of campaign violations.
Jesse Benton, 45, of Woodlands, Texas, had charged Russian nationwide Roman Vasilenko $100,000 to have an image taken with Trump on Sept. 22, 2016, on the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia, in accordance to courtroom data.
Benton’s firm Titan Methods pocketed $75,000 of the payment and handed alongside the remaining $25,000 as a contribution to Trump’s campaign committee, Trump Victory, and the Republican Nationwide Committee. Trump Victory, the Trump campaign and RNC every unwittingly reported falsely to the Federal Election Fee that Benton made the contribution fairly than Vasilenko, in accordance to courtroom data. Foreigners aren’t allowed to contribute to U.S. campaigns.
A federal jury convicted Benton in November of conspiracy with co-defendant Doug Wead, of constructing electoral contributions by overseas nationals, electoral contributions within the identify of one other individual, and inflicting false data.
Benton has labored on quite a few Republican campaigns, together with for Kentucky Sens. Mitch McConnell in 2014 and Rand Paul in 2010, and former Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential bid in 2012. In 2016, Benton served as chief strategist for Nice America PAC, a committee supporting Trump.
Benton had been convicted of comparable federal expenses of conspiracy, inflicting false data and inflicting false campaign expenditure experiences in Iowa in 2016, related to Ron Paul’s campaign. In that case, Benton was sentenced to probation and residential confinement after pleading his profession was over as a sole breadwinner for his spouse and daughter in Texas.
(*18*) earlier than leaving workplace in 2021.
U.S. District Choose Trevor McFadden sentenced Benton to jail.
“Defendant’s conduct right here was brazen, intentional and unrepentant,” prosecutors stated in a sentencing memo.
This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: GOP consultant gets prison for arranging Russian contribution to Trump