Tennessee senator pleads guilty to federal campaign finance charges

3-20-18 Sen. Kelsey
Posted at 4:38 PM, Nov 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-22 17:38:33-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — State Sen. Brian Kelsey pleaded guilty Tuesday to violating federal campaign finance laws during a failed run at a seat for U.S. Congress.

Kelsey, R-Germantown, made a bid for Congress in 2016. He is scheduled to be sentenced in the summer of 2023.

At the time of the indictment, Kelsey called the whole situation a "political witchhunt."

His co-conspirator Josh Smith — owner of Nashville political gathering spot The Standard — pleaded guilty in October to illegally steer "soft money" to the congressional campaign of Sen. Kelsey.

According to court documents, Kelsey, 44, admitted that he conspired to and did secretly and unlawfully funnel money from multiple sources, including his own Tennessee State Senate campaign committee, to his authorized federal campaign committee. Kelsey and his co-conspirators, including Smith, also caused a national political organization to make illegal, excessive contributions to Kelsey’s federal campaign committee by secretly coordinating with the organization on advertisements supporting Kelsey’s federal candidacy and to cause false reports of contributions and expenditures to be filed with the FEC.

Kelsey and the other conspirators orchestrated the concealed movement of $91,000. He, Smith, and others also caused the political organization to make $80,000 worth of contributions to Kelsey’s federal campaign committee in the form of coordinated expenditures.

Kelsey and Smith were indicted by a federal grand jury in Nashville in October 2021 and charged with violating multiple campaign finance laws.

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