Shortly before the 2012 Iowa Caucus, candidate Michele Bachmann’s state chairman, State Senator Kent Sorenson, left the Bachmann campaign and endorsed Ron Paul. Rumors were rampant that Senator Sorenson had been offered money to change his support. Now we know that the rumors were true because Dennis Fusaro, Ron Paul’s campaign field director during his 2008 race for President, has released a recording of a phone conversation between himself and Senator Sorenson discussing the check given to Sorenson by Demitri Kesari, Ron Paul’s Deputy National Campaign Manager. Demitri Kesari lives in Hamilton Virginia in western Loudoun county where he serves on the Hamilton Town Council.
In the phone call Sorenson tells Fusaro that Sorenson and his wife met Kesari for dinner. While Sorenson was in the men’s room, Kesari gave Sorenson’s wife a check written from the account of the jewelry store owned by Kesari and his wife in Leesburg. Sorenson also said contemporaneously that he did not cash the check, but as of January 2013 that was not entirely clear. More on the story here and here.
Senator Sorenson also confirms that Ron Paul’s National Campaign manager, Jesse Benton, knew about the payment. Jesse Benton is the grandson-in-law of Ron Paul and currently the campaign manager for Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell in his re-election bid. Benton has consistently denied that any payments were offered to Sorenson in exchange for his support of Ron Paul. Benton and Dennis Fusaro worked together on Ron Paul’s 2008 race for his Congressional seat from Texas.
In another recorded phone call between Jesse Benton and Dennis Fusaro, Benton says this about his current job managing the campaign of Senator McConnell, “Between you and me, I’m kind of holding my nose for two years, because what we’re doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand in ‘16. So, that’s my long vision.” Benton had also managed the Senate campaign of Rand Paul in 2010. More on that story here.
UPDATE: More details on this story, identifying all the players, with details of the payment agreements here.