Rand Paul super PAC strategist acquitted of lying to FBI

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  • Jesse Benton was charged with allegedly participating in a scheme to pay a former Iowa state senator $73,000 to endorse Ron Paul
  • Benton was campaign chairman for the presidential run of Rand Paul's father at the time

Washington (CNN)A federal jury on Thursday acquitted a top strategist for the pro-Rand Paul super PAC on charges that he lied to FBI agents.

Jesse Benton, who served as General Consultant to America's Liberty PAC, was charged with allegedly participating in a scheme to pay a former Iowa state senator $73,000 to endorse Ron Paul, Rand Paul's father, in the lead-up to the 2012 Iowa caucuses.
Benton resigned his post with the super PAC when he was indicted, his attorney Roscoe Howard said, adding that he assumes Benton will soon return to the PAC.
    Ron Paul's former deputy campaign manager Dimitrios Kesari, who was indicted along with Benton, was found guilty Thursday of causing a false record and was acquitted on five other counts, said his attorney, Jesse Binnall.
    "It's a day of mixed emotions for us and we're going to evaluate all of our options going forward," Binnall said, adding that his client maintains his innocence.
    And John Tate, a third former Ron Paul official who had also been indicted, was cleared of all charges against him earlier this month when a jury acquitted him and Benton of four other counts in connection with the case, Howard said. Tate is the founder of the America's Liberty PAC.
    "God is great," Benton told reporters outside of the courthouse in Des Moines, the Des Moines Register reported.
    Benton was campaign chairman for the presidential run of Rand Paul's father at the time. The Super PAC Benton currently heads has raised more than $3 million for Rand Paul.
    Rand Paul applauded the decision related to Benton on Thursday.
    "I am happy that justice has been served," Rand Paul told CNN in an email Thursday.
    Benton has deep connections to the Paul family and is married to Rand Paul's niece.
    America's Liberty PAC has not responded to CNN's request for comment.