A federal judge on Friday dismissed four out of five charges against a top operative for Republican presidential candidate and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) involved in a bribery scandal, Politico reported.
Jesse Benton, who headed up a super PAC supportive of Paul’s presidential bid called America’s Liberty PAC and previously managed his 2010 Senate campaign, was indicted in August in connection with the alleged bribery scheme. He and two other former staffers to Paul’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), were accused of bribing a former Iowa lawmaker to switch his endorsement in the 2012 presidential primary from former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) to the elder Paul.
The judge dismissed all charges against Benton except for a count of lying to the FBI about the alleged payments to the former lawmaker, Kent Sorenson. Sorenson pleaded guilty last year to accepting payments in exchange for swapping his endorsement.
“The government is free to proceed to trial – and informed the court today that it will proceed to trial – on the remaining counts pertaining to Benton and Kesari,” Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said. “The decision regarding the dismissed counts will be made at a later date post trial.”
Benton took a leave of absence from America’s Liberty PAC after being slapped with charges that included conspiracy and submitting false campaign expenditure reports.
Both Pauls had questioned the timing of the indictment, which was handed down shortly before the first Republican presidential primary debate of the 2016 election cycle. The Associated Press reported that Ron Paul was scheduled to testify in the trial, which is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa.
This post has been updated.