Tennessee State Sen. Brian Kelsey indicted in alleged campaign finance scheme

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 10:17 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 25, 2021 at 12:54 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Mid-South lawmaker is facing a federal indictment for allegedly violating campaign finance laws.

A federal grand jury in Nashville indicted Tennessee State Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, and Nashville social club owner Joshua Smith with an alleged scheme to benefit from Kelsey’s 2016 campaign for U.S. Congress, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to a news release from acting U.S. Attorney Joseph C. Murphy Jr., court documents allege the pair conspired to funnel “soft money” from Kelsey’s Tennessee State Senate campaign committee to his authorized federal campaign committee.

Kelsey and others are accused of causing a national political organization to make illegal, excessive contributions to Kelsey’s federal campaign committee by secretly coordinating with the organization on advertisements supporting his federal candidacy and causing false reports of contributions and expenditures to be filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The indictment alleges Kelsey, Smith and others orchestrated the concealed movement of $91,000 to a national political organization for funding advertisements that urged voters to support Kelsey in the August 2016 primary election. It also alleges the conspirators caused the political organization to make $80,000 worth of contributions to Kelsey’s federal campaign committee with coordinated expenditures.

Kelsey and Smith are charged with conspiracy to defraud the FED, illegally transferring “soft money” as a federal candidate and his agent and illegally transferring “soft money” as a state officeholder and his agent.

Kelsey is also charged with making excessive contributions to a federal campaign and accepting excessive contributions.

The pair is set to make an initial court appearance Nov. 5. If convicted, they face up to five years in prison on each count.

The FBI is investigating the case.

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