Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) responded to Wednesday’s indictment of his former presidential campaign aides by suggesting it was a plot to thwart his son’s nascent presidential run.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) followed in his father’s footsteps and is in the middle of his own campaign for president in 2016.
“I am extremely disappointed in the government’s decision,” Ron Paul said in a statement provided by a spokesperson to Business Insider.
He called the indictment “suspicious” because the first GOP primary debate is Thursday, when Rand Paul will square off with nine other Republican candidates in Cleveland.
“I think the timing of this indictment is highly suspicious given the fact that the first primary debate is tomorrow,” he continued.
Earlier in the day, the Justice Department announced that three political operatives — Jesse Benton, John Tate, and Dimitrios Kesari — had been charged with campaign-finance fraud and related crimes, including filing false records and obstruction of justice.
Benton and Tate are listed in various reports as top officials at America’s Liberty PAC, a super PAC supporting Rand Paul’s presidential campaign.
The indictment said the three had worked on an unnamed presidential campaign, but there’s little doubt that it was referring to Ron Paul’s 2012 White House bid. The campaign was subsequently marred by allegations that its staffers funneled money to now-former Iowa State Sen. Kent Sorenson (R) in exchange for his endorsement.
Sorenson, who was named in the Wednesday indictment, pleaded guilty to two federal charges last year and admitted that he had accepted payments from the campaigns of Ron Paul and former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) to secure his support, according to The Washington Post.
The Justice Department accused the operatives of covering up more than $US70,000 in payments to Sorenson, who it alleges “negotiated with the defendants to switch his support to” Ron Paul in 2012.
At the time, according to The Post, Benson said, “inaccurate press accounts and unsubstantiated media rumours about me and my role in past campaigns” were “politically motivated, unfair and, most importantly, untrue.”
Benton, Liberty PAC, and Rand Paul’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment from Business Insider on Wednesday.
Additional reporting by Brett LoGiurato.
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