SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A longtime GOP operative with ties to Springfield is one of two men indicted for funneling money from a Russian national into the Trump campaign in 2016.
Roy Douglas “Doug” Wead, 75, of Bonita Springs, Florida, and Jesse Benton, 43, of Louisville, Kentucky, was accused in an indictment unsealed Monday in federal court in Washington.
Benton, who was the former chief strategist for the pro-Trump Great America PAC, and Doug Wead, who served as an adviser to multiple presidential campaigns and is a presidential historian and author, were accused of conspiracy to solicit and cause an illegal campaign contribution by a Russian foreign national during the 2016 presidential election.
According to court papers, Wead told a Russian foreign national that he could meet an unnamed presidential candidate at a political event in exchange for a contribution. It is illegal to solicit campaign contributions from foreigners.
The indictment does not specify which presidential candidate, but at the time of the event noted in the indictment, Sept. 22, 2016, there were only two major party candidates, Republican Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump had a fundraiser in both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on Sept. 22.
After the unnamed donor committed to transfer the funds, Benton arranged for the Russian national to attend a political fundraising event and get a photo in exchange for $100,000 in donations to a political consulting firm owned by Benton, the indictment says. The indictment said that the men later disguised the funds by creating a fake invoice.
According to the indictment, Benton then told two political committees affiliated with the candidate that he’d sent the promised contribution, eventually using a personal credit card to make a $25,000 donating and keeping the rest. Unknowingly, the political committees filed reports with the election commission that wrongly stated that Benton was the source of that donation, the indictment read.
Benton and Wead were both charged with conspiracy to solicit and cause an illegal campaign contribution by a foreign national, effect a conduit contribution, and cause false records to be filed with the Federal Election Commission.
In December 2020, President Trump pardoned Benton from a similar, but unrelated conviction a few weeks before Trump was set to leave office.
Both Wead and Benton pleaded not guilty in their first court appearance on Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Subheading: Well-known businessman with ties to Springfield
According to his website, Doug Wead was born in Muncie, Indiana. He was raised by a minister with Assemblies of God. Following in his father and brother’s footsteps, Wead went to attended Central Bible College, and then Evangel University in the mid-1960s.
Wead often made headlines in Springfield throughout the 80s and 90s for his work as an Assemblies of God minister, motivational speak, and various philanthropic efforts.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, Wead had made name for himself as a top-level Amway distributor and salesman, as well as a notable author.
Wead’s website states on July 27, 1984, he received an “Honorary Doctorate of Education from Southwest Baptist University, in Bolivar, Missouri for his work as a humanitarian.” Wead and his wife Gloria were featured in the Springfield-News Leader in 1985 for their large home in east Springfield. The newspaper wrote on May 12th that year the home was a “replica of an 1890s country estate.”