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GOP operative gets 1.5 years in prison for facilitating illegal Russian donation to Trump 2016 campaign

<i>David Pitt/AP/File</i><br/>Republican strategist Jessie Benton was sentenced on February 17 to 1.5 years in prison for facilitating an illegal contribution from a Russian businessman to Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Benton is seen here in 2016 in Des Moines
AP
David Pitt/AP/File
Republican strategist Jessie Benton was sentenced on February 17 to 1.5 years in prison for facilitating an illegal contribution from a Russian businessman to Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Benton is seen here in 2016 in Des Moines

By Hannah Rabinowitz, CNN

A Republican strategist was sentenced Friday to 1.5 years in prison for facilitating an illegal contribution from a Russian businessman to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

Jessie Benton, who worked for the pro-Trump super PAC and was a longtime aide to former GOP Rep. Ron Paul, was convicted by a federal jury in November on several charges, including conspiring to solicit an illegal foreign campaign contribution.

Both the Trump campaign and Trump himself were not aware of the scheme involving Russian money, the Justice Department has said.

According to evidence presented at trial, Benton helped a Russian national secure a ticket to a Republican National Committee event in 2016, where he would have the opportunity to meet and take a picture with Trump. The Russian national paid Benton $100,000 to get the ticket, prosecutors said.

Benton created a fake invoice suggesting he had received the money for consulting services, donated $25,000 of that money under his own name to the RNC to get a ticket to the event and pocketed the remaining $75,000.

A veteran GOP operative, Benton has now been convicted of crimes related to the 2016 and 2012 elections.

He was previously convicted of falsifying federal records as part of a plot to buy an endorsement from an Iowa state senator, who flipped her support to Paul during the 2012 Republican primary. Trump pardoned Benton for those crimes in late 2020, wiping those convictions off the books.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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