Tennessee State Sen. Brian Kelsey Indicted on Federal Charges


Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) was indicted by a federal grand jury in Nashville Friday on a five-count indictment charging him and another man with violating multiple campaign finance laws.

This, according to a press release that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee published Monday.

The press release said that Kelsey and Nashville social club owner Joshua Smith, 44, allegedly violated multiple campaign finance laws as part of a conspiracy to benefit Kelsey’s 2016 campaign for Congress.

“According to the indictment, beginning in February 2016 and continuing through mid-October 2016, Kelsey and Smith conspired with others to violate federal campaign finance laws to secretly and unlawfully funnel ‘soft money,’ funds not subject to the limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act [FECA]) from Kelsey’s Tennessee State Senate campaign committee to his authorized federal campaign committee,” the press release said.

“Kelsey and others 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 Federal Election Commission. In 2016, the FECA limited campaign contributions to $2,700 from any one individual or organization to any one candidate in each election.”

The press release and the attached indictment did not identify the national political organization.

“The indictment alleges that Kelsey, Smith, and other unindicted co-conspirators orchestrated the concealed movement of $91,000 to a national political organization for the purpose of funding advertisements that urged voters to support Kelsey in the August 2016 primary election, and that the conspirators caused the political organization to make $80,000 worth of contributions to Kelsey’s federal campaign committee in the form of coordinated expenditures,” according to the press release.

“The indictment alleges other meetings and communications between the conspirators, resulting in the illegal transfers, contributions, and expenditures associated with Kelsey’s federal campaign.”

Federal officials have charged Kelsey and Smith with conspiracy, illegally transferring soft money as a federal candidate and his agent, and illegally transferring soft money as a state officeholder and his agent. Federal officials have also charged Kelsey with making excessive contributions to a federal campaign and accepting excessive contributions.

If convicted, Kelsey and Smith face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.

A court summons has directed Kelsey and Smith to surrender to U.S. Marshals in the Middle District of Tennessee on or before November 5. Both men are scheduled to make an initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate judge, the press release said.

FBI agents investigated the case, according to the press release.

– – –

Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Brian Kelsey” by Brian Kelsey. Background Photo “Courtroom” by Karen Neoh. CC BY 2.0.






Related posts

2 Thoughts to “Tennessee State Sen. Brian Kelsey Indicted on Federal Charges”

  1. Cannoneer2

    Well, Mr. Kelsey should look on the bright side! I’m sure that there is a six figure salaried position waiting for him in the Lee Administration should he be convicted…

  2. jamesb

    anything the fbi does is subject to suspicion. democrat or republican.