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Defense Hinges on the Trustworthiness of Kent Sorenson

Jury deliberations are underway in the federal trial of two senior staffers from Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign. During closing arguments defense attorneys repeated to the jury several times that Kent Sorenson, a key prosecution witness, lies.

"If Kent Sorenson told you that the sky was blue," said Jesse Binnall, attorney for defendant Dimitrios Kesari, "you'd have to go out and check."

Sorenson is a former Iowa state senator who pleaded guilty last year to charges related to him receiving $73,000 in under-the-table payments for joining Ron Paul's campaign and defecting from the campaign of rival Michele Bachmann days before the 2012 Iowa Caucuses.

Sorenson testified Kesari decided Sorenson should be paid through a third party in Maryland and that the other defendant, Jesse Benton, was aware of the arrangement. Kesari is charged with conspiracy in relation to submitting false records to the Federal Election Commission, and Benton with lying to the FBI.

Prosecutors say Kesari and Benton wanted to keep the payments under the table since Sorenson's endorsement would be worthless if the public found out he was being paid. Also, working for a candidate violates the Iowa State Senate's code of ethics.

Kesari and Benton’s lawyers say Sorenson can’t be trusted to tell the truth because previously he lied in media interviews and later under oath that he hadn’t been paid by the campaign. If he is a successful witness for the government, Sorenson will likely receive a lighter sentence. 

Benton faces up to five years in prison. Kesari could face 20.