Aides to Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential bid plead not guilty
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two former top aides to Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign pled not guilty Thursday to charges that they conspired to buy the support of an Iowa lawmaker before that year’s caucuses.
Jesse Benton and John Tate appeared in federal court in Des Moines. Along with a third former Ron Paul staffer, they are charged with conspiracy, falsifying documents and several other related crimes. Both were released and a trial date of Oct. 5 has been set for all three.
Benton and Tate are on leave from their roles leading America’s Liberty, a super PAC supporting Rand Paul’s presidential run. Benton is married to Rand Paul’s niece. The third aide, former Ron Paul deputy campaign manager Dimitri Kesari, has already appeared in court.
The aides were indicted in Iowa two weeks ago. The indictment alleges Benton negotiated a $73,000 payment to state Sen. Kent Sorenson in exchange for his leaving the Michele Bachmann campaign to support Paul. It accuses the trio of covering it up by using false invoices to hide the money in campaign records and filings.
Benton has been fighting investigators’ attempt to obtain and read thousands of his emails between 2011 and 2014. He has filed a legal action seeking to quash a warrant authorizing the search of his Gmail account, saying it’s overly broad and would violate his privacy rights. Google has resisted federal prosecutors’ demands to provide the emails immediately, arguing Benton should have time to appeal.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Helen Adams upheld the warrant earlier this month and ordered Google to turn over the emails. But on Thursday, she ruled that Benton can appeal next week to a district judge. She said Google didn’t have to comply with the warrant until at least Aug. 25 to give Benton time to file his appeal and request a stay.