Three Members of 2012 Presidential Campaign Staff Guilty of Concealing Campaign Expenditures to State Senator

Department of Justice – Three members of a 2012 presidential campaign committee were convicted by a federal jury in Des Moines, Iowa, on all counts of an indictment charging the concealment of campaign expenditures made to secure the endorsement of an Iowa State Senator.

  • Jesse R. Benton, 38, of Louisville, Kentucky, and John M. Tate, 53, of Warrenton, Virginia, were convicted of conspiracy, causing false records to obstruct a contemplated investigation, causing the submission of false campaign expenditure reports to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and engaging in a scheme to make false statements to the FEC
  • Dimitrios N. Kesari, 50, of Leesburg, Virginia, was convicted of the same offenses, except causing false campaign expenditure reports, for which he was previously convicted by a jury in a separate trial in October 2015
  • The defendants were the senior leadership of a campaign for a candidate in the 2012 presidential election
  • According to the indictment, former Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson initially supported one candidate in the 2012 presidential election, but between October and December 2011, negotiated with the defendants to switch his support to their candidate in exchange for money
  • Evidence at trial proved that the campaign expenditures to Sorenson were made in monthly installments of approximately $8,000 each and ultimately amounted to over $70,000
  • The defendants concealed the payments by causing them to be recorded – both in campaign accounting records and in FEC filings – as campaign-related audio-visual expenditures, and by causing them to be transmitted to a film production company and then to a second company that was controlled by Sorenson
  • The conspirators concealed their campaign’s payments to Sorenson from their candidate and also from the FEC, the FBI, and the public
  • The conspirators arranged for Sorenson to issue public statements denying allegations that he was offered money for his endorsement and noting that the campaign committee’s FEC filings would show that it made no payments to Sorenson
  • The case is being prosecuted by Director Richard C. Pilger of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section’s Election Crimes Branch, Deputy Chief J.P. Cooney, and Trial Attorney Jonathan I. Kravis