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August 8th, 2013

Audio: Benton “Holding his Nose” While Working for McConnell

In early January of this year, Jesse Benton, Ron Paul’s 2012 National Campaign Chairman, had a telephone conversation with Dennis Fusaro.  In the call, Fusaro confronted Benton about the payment to Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson by Dimitri Kesari, one of Benton’s subordinates who was serving as Paul’s National Deputy Campaign Manager.

After being confronted, a very nervous sounding Benton asks Fusaro to send him the evidence because, if that indeed did happen, Benton says he shares responsibility because of his role with the campaign.  Ironically, when Fusaro emailed Benton about the incident last month, Benton responded to him by saying, “You are an insane and delusional person, Dennis.  I hope you get help. I’ll pray for you.”

Benton, who is currently acting as Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell’s 2014 campaign manager, also didn’t have very kind things to say about his new employer in the call.  Near the end of the call, Benton explains that he’s only working for McConnell because it’s good for Rand Paul in 2016.

“I’m doing something else man.  I am, well between you and me, I’m sort of holding my nose for two years, ‘cause what we’re doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand in 16 so.  That’s my long vision.”

Benton was hired by the McConnell campaign on September 13, 2012, in large part to help McConnell stave off a primary challenge.  In June of this year, Louisville businessman Matt Bevin launched a primary campaign against McConnell.  Benton has been defending McConnell’s record, telling the Washington Times on Tuesday, “[McConnell] is the most conservative Republican leader in modern history, and he’s also the most effective advocate for the people of Kentucky.”

Benton’s statements to the media doesn’t mesh with his private feelings about his new boss.

Below is the audio of the call, as well as a full transcript.

Benton: Hey Dennis, how are you man?

Fusaro: Jesse, how are you doing?

Benton: Pretty good, what’s going on?

Fusaro: Hey, I’m just calling you because I wanted to ask you a question.  Did you know that Demitri Kesari gave Kent Sorenson a $30,000 check from a non-campaign account to induce him to support the Ron Paul presidential campaign?  In another words, he made an expenditure that was coordinated and not recorded to advance the election of Ron Paul for President.  And he was a deputy campaign manager.  Did you know that?

Benton: I’d like to see that if you got proof, man.  I don’t know anything about that.

Fusaro: Oh, I’ve got proof.

Benton: I’d like to see it.

Fusaro: Where you involved in that?

Bentons: Ahhhhh, no.  And I have to share in the responsibility, so if you have proof of that, I’d like to take action.

Fusaro: If you are true about that, I’ll show you the proof.

Benton: Alright, I’d like to see it man.

Fusaro: I’ll be getting you it.

Benton:  Alright man, you know how to get a hold of me?  Well you got my number.

Fusaro: I’ve got your cell phone.

Benton: Okay, let me give you my address.

Fusaro: What? Your email?

Benton: Ah, no.  Do you want to mail it or do you want to email it?  What’s easier for you.

Fusaro: I’ll mail it to you.

Benton:  Alright, you ready?

Fusaro: Yep.

[Benton then gives Fusaro his home address in Louisville, Kentucky]

Fusaro: Okay, I’ve got it.

Benton: Alright man.

Fusaro: I appreciate it.

Benton: How’s everything going with you?

Fusaro: It’s going well.  Keeping busy, raising a family, minding the store so to speak.  But, um…

Benton: Are you still with that Senator?

Fusaro: I am.  I am.

Benton: Good stuff, man.

Fusaro: Yeah, and I guess you are doing something else then?

Benton: I’m doing something else, man.  I am, well between you and me, I’m sort of holding my nose for two years, ‘cause what we’re doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand in 16 so.  That’s my long vision.  So…

Fusaro: Okay.  Alright, very good.  Thanks

Benton: Alright man.

Fusaro: See ya.

Benton: Mail that to me and don’t be a stranger.  Call me any time.

Fusaro: Okay, will do, bye-bye.

Fusaro did not mail the documentation referenced in this call to Benton because Fusaro believed Benton was being dishonest about his ignorance of the payment. Fusaro had just spoken with Kent Sorenson prior to speaking to Benton, and Sorenson had just confirmed that Benton did know about the payment.  Fusaro was also aware of emails between Benton and the Sorenson camp regarding the negotiations to get Sorenson to join the Paul campaign.

Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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