WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican political operative pardoned by President Donald Trump after his conviction in a 2012 bribery plot has been charged again with campaign-related crimes, this time involving a 2016 illegal campaign contribution scheme and a Russian national.
Jesse Benton, 43, of Louisville, Kentucky, was accused in an indictment unsealed Monday in federal court in Washington.
Trump pardoned Benton in December after his conviction in a case involving false records and campaign reports to the Federal Election Commission. Prosecutors said Benton and two others who were working on the 2012 presidential campaign of Ron Paul tried to hide $73,000 in payments to an Iowa state senator, Kent Sorenson, for his endorsement of Paul.
The most recent case is similar in nature to the 2012 charges. Benton, who was the former chief strategist for the pro-Trump Great America PAC, and Roy Douglas “Doug” Wead, who served as an adviser to multiple presidential campaigns and is a presidential historian and author, were accused of conspiracy to solicit and cause an illegal campaign…