By Jan Wolfe
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors on Monday unsealed criminal charges against two longtime Republican Party operatives, accusing them of illegally funneling a foreign campaign contribution to former President Donald Trump in 2016.
Jesse Benton (and Doug Wead) were indicted in a District of Columbia federal court. They are accused of conspiring to funnel illegally thousands of dollars of money from Russia to an election for the office of president of the United States of America.
U.S. law prohibits foreigners from giving money to presidential campaigns.
The indictment states that Benton and Wead assisted a Russian national to get tickets to Trump’s September 2016 fundraiser in Pennsylvania.
According to the indictment the Russian national, not named in it, gave $25,000 to Trump-related political action committees in order to be able to attend the event.
The indictment stated that Trump’s campaign was not aware of the source of the money because it was hidden from them by Benton who was acting as a “straw contributor”.
Benton (43), was previously involved in the management of campaigns for Republican senators Mitch McConnell, and Rand Paul, Kentucky, before being convicted for participating in a scheme to endorse political candidates. Trump pardoned Benton in December 2020, so he avoided prison time.
Wead (75), was a senior advisor on several presidential campaigns. He also ran for Congress in 1992 as a Republican.
Although it was unclear if legal representation had been sought by the couple,
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