|Jesse Benton on Undercover Tape Plotting to Funnel Chinese Money Into a Trump PAC|
Jesse Benton, who managed to screw up Ron Paul's 2012 presidential bid and who managed to get himself convicted of a felony, is back in the news.
He has been caught on tape plotting to take foreign Chinese money for a Trump PAC.
Of course, the PAC and Benton have absolutely no connection to Trump himself, but the media is playing it up as "Trump taking foreign money."
From Raw Story: BOMBSHELL: Trump campaign super PAC facing new foreign donor scandal involving Chinese millions
From Salon: Donald Trump super PAC solicited money from fake Chinese donor, offered to“whisper” into “Trump’s ear”
From The New York Times: Consultant With Ties to Donald Trump Linked to Offer to Hide Source of Donations
From The Telegraph: Exclusive investigation: Donald Trump faces foreign donor fundraising scandal
Here are the facts on the latest escapade of the bumbling Benton as reported by The Times:
A video posted on Monday by a British newspaper appeared to show a Republican consultant with ties to Donald J. Trump offering to disguise the source of contributions to a “super PAC” intended to aid Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.Here's The Telegraph:
In an accompanying article, the newspaper, The Telegraph, wrote that two of its reporters, posing as representatives of a Chinese national who supported Mr. Trump as the Republican presidential nominee, had proposed making a $2 million contribution in support of him. According to the newspaper, the G.O.P. consultant, Jesse Benton, had proposed routing the contribution through his own public relations firm and into nonprofit groups that do not disclose their donors, disguising the foreign source. The groups would then make the contribution to the super PAC, known as Great America PAC, or spend it to benefit Mr. Trump.
United States law strictly forbids foreign nationals from making contributions to candidates, political parties or PACs. And Mr. Benton has a checkered history: Last month he was sentenced to two years of probation for his role in a 2012 scheme to make secret payments to an Iowa state senator in exchange for an endorsement....In the video, shot during a meeting at a New York hotel, Mr. Benton can be seen saying, “I’ll send money from my company to both.” The video then cuts to another shot, with Mr. Benton agreeing that money would move from his firm into a nonprofit. In neither case does the video show the full exchange.
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is facing a fundraising scandal after a Telegraph investigation exposed how key supporters were prepared to accept illicit donations from foreign backers.
Senior figures involved with the Great America PAC, one of the leading "independent" groups organising television advertisements and grassroots support for the Republican nominee, sought to channel $2 million from a Chinese donor into the campaign to elect the billionaire despite laws prohibiting donations from foreigners.
In return, undercover reporters purporting to represent the fictitious donor were assured that he would obtain “influence” if Mr Trump made it to the White House...
The reporter then received an email from Jesse Benton, a senior figure at the PAC until being convicted in May in connection with buying a senator’s endorsement on a prior campaign. He said he was a “consultant” and that [the PAC’s co-chairman Eric] Beach had not wanted a “paper trail” of contact. He and the PAC later denied that he had worked for it at all since May.The undercover video here.
Mr Benton proposed channelling the donation through his own company to mask its origin. It would then be passed on to two C4s before being donated by them to the PAC, or simply used to fund projects the PAC had already planned...Mr Benton denied any “unethical” behaviour. He claimed he spoke to the reporters after a “business referral” from Mr Beach and proposed a “public affairs contract” with his firm “having determined money could not go into a 501(c)4”.
Dan Backer, counsel to the PAC, denied that Mr Beach asked Mr Benton to act for him and said Mr Benton “has not had a role with the PAC since May and does not speak for it”. The "professional referral" for "Mr Benton's own benefit" was so that "Mr Benton could explore legal options for your reporters' alleged client".
He continued: “Mr Benton has not solicited any contributions to the PAC that I am aware of, nor has he been asked to do so.”
He suggested Mr Benton had simply engaged in “puffery and self-promotion”, adding that “the conduct of the PAC and Mr. Beach’s conduct was appropriate, ethical and legal at all times.”
For the record, I doubt Benton has ever met Trump. That until today, Trump had never heard of Benton.