Mitch McConnell’s campaign has been dinged by another secret recording, this one of his campaign manager, who says he is “holding his nose” on the job.
McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton, who previously served as Ron Paul’s campaign manager, made the remarks during a January phone call with Dennis Fusaro of the Reformed Theological Seminary, a former campaign aide to two-time presidential candidate Ron Paul.
Benton told Fusaro his reason for leading McConnell’s re-election effort is to benefit a run for the White House in 2016 by Ron Paul’s son, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
Rand Paul and McConnell have build an alliance despite McConnell’s efforts in 2010 to defeat him in the GOP primary by supporting a more moderate candidate. While Paul supports McConnell, Benton’s remarks suggest a fragile accord between the two camps.
Fusaro recorded the call legally, he told the Weekly Standard, and he waited to make it public because he wanted Benton to own up to claims that the Paul campaign paid off Iowa legislator Kent Sorenson for his support during the 2012 Iowa caucus.
The call was first reported by the Economicpolicyjournal.com, which obtained the audio.
Benton told the Washington Examiner the secretly recorded call is “truly sick.”
This isn’t the campaign’s first time dealing with a secret recording.
In April, Mother Jones reported a secret recording of McConnell and his re-election team talking about ways to take out his opponents, namely actress Ashley Judd. A Democratic activist admitted illegally recording the conversation, in which a “Jesse” is mentioned as someone who had gathered information on Judd’s history of mental struggles. Judd later decided not to challenge McConnell.
But it’s McConnell’s bid for a sixth term that appears to be Benton’s subject in the latest recording.
“Between you and me I’m sort of holding my nose for two years because what we’re doing here is going to be a big benefit for Rand in 2016,” a man alleged to be Benton says on the recording.
According to the Economic Policy Journal website, Sorenson can be heard on a different call describing how a Paul deputy campaign manager gave his wife a check at a restaurant while Sorenson was in the bathroom.
“The call was recorded just days after Sorenson abruptly abandoned Michele Bachmann’s campaign and publicly endorsed Ron Paul,” the website reports.
A campaign aide emailed the Examiner this statement from Benton:
“It is truly sick that someone would record a private phone conversation I had out of kindness and use it to try to hurt me. I believe in Senator McConnell and am 100 percent committed to his re-election. Being selected to lead his campaign is one of the great honors of my life and I look forward to victory in November of 2014.”
The recording is already being hyped by McConnell’s primary opponent, businessman Matt Bevin. His campaign spokeswoman, Sarah Durand, said the recording is evidence that McConnell’s conservative credentials are in doubt among his own campaign team.
“Even Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, thinks something stinks with the Mitch McConnell campaign,” Durand said in an email blast to reporters.