GOP operative sentenced to prison for arranging illegal Russian donation to Trump campaign
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via a video link in Moscow on September 23, 2022 Gavriil GRIGOROV SPUTNIK/AFP

A Republican campaign consultant already known and convicted for his ties for setting up Russian financial contributions to the campaign of former President Donald Trump has been found guilty once again for a similar crime, this time in a different state across the country.

Jesse Benton, who is well known throughout GOP political inner circles, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for allowing a Russian national to make an illegal contribution to former President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

Benton will be serving the prison time for charging Russian national Roman Vasilenko $100,000 just to take a picture with Trump, and then donated $25,000 to the campaign. The event occurred September 2016 at the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia, according to court documents.

Benton, from Texas, was previously convicted for a similar crime in Iowa, and only received probation.

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For the crime in Philadelphia, the $75,000 profit margin from the $100,000 photo opportunity went directly to Benton's own company, Titan Strategies. The actual $25,000 donation went to Trump's campaign committee, Trump Victory and the Republican National Committee.

The violation occurred when all three groups--Trump Victory, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee supposedly unknowingly made false reports to the Federal Election Commission that the donation came from Benton and not Vasilenko.

As standard with federal laws, foreign individuals or foreign companies are not allowed to contribute to domestic political campaigns.

Benton was convicted in November along with co-defendant Doug Wead, both guilty of making electoral contributions by foreign nationals, electoral contributions in the name of another person and causing false records.

Benton's client portfolio includes Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Rand Paul (R-KY). He also has served as the lead chief strategist for Great America PAC, a political action committee that supported Trump.

Trump pardoned Benton in 2021 prior to leaving the White House.

In the sentencing memo U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden stated, "Defendant's conduct here was brazen, intentional and unrepentant."