Jesse Benton, who had worked as the campaign manager for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's re-election bid, said Friday he would resign.
The veteran operative with close ties to the Paul family released a lengthy statement making the announcement. The Lexington Herald-Leader first reported Benton's resignation, which is effective Saturday.
The move comes just two days after a former Iowa state senator admitted to accepting $73,000 in concealed payments from former Rep. Ron Paul's presidential campaign. In exchange for the money, that individual, Kent Sorenson, switched endorsements from Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., to Paul, a Texas Republican.
Benton was the elder Paul's campaign chairman in 2012, having also worked for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Benton maintained his innocence in the conversation with the Herald-Leader, citing "inaccurate press accounts and unsubstantiated media rumors."
Earlier in the day, a McConnell campaign spokeswoman said in a statement that "Senator McConnell obviously has nothing to do with the Iowa Presidential Caucus or this investigation so it would be inappropriate for his campaign to comment on this situation."
Benton's full statement appears below:
There is no more important cause for both Kentucky, my new home I have come to love, and our country than electing Mitch McConnell Majority Leader of the United States Senate. I believe this deep in my bones, and I would never allow anything or anyone to get in the way. That includes myself. Recently, there have been inaccurate press accounts and unsubstantiated media rumors about me and my role in past campaigns that are politically motivated, unfair and, most importantly, untrue. I hope those who know me recognize that I strive to be a man of integrity. The press accounts and rumors are particularly hurtful because they are false. However, what is most troubling to me is that they risk unfairly undermining and becoming a distraction to this reelection campaign. Working for Mitch McConnell is one of the great honors of my life. He is a friend, a mentor and a great man this commonwealth desperately needs. I cannot, and will not, allow any possibility that my circumstances will effect the voters’ ability to hear his message and assess his record. This election is far too important and the stakes way too high. With a heavy heart, I offered Sen. McConnell my resignation this afternoon and he reluctantly accepted. Effective Saturday, August 30th, I will no longer be the “Team Mitch” campaign manager. The good news is that most of my work has been done. We have built a top flight team of incredible people that are working tirelessly to ensure Mitch's re-election. They are a finely oiled machine and will not skip a beat without me. This decision breaks my heart, but I know it is the right thing for Mitch, for Kentucky and for the country. James 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."Related Stories: And the Winner of the GOP's Civil War Primary Is. . .Part II McConnell Wants Details From Obama on Plans for ISIS Top 5 Races to Watch in the South Back Home, Top Senate Democrats Upbeat About Holding Majority Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.