Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) issued an attempt to change his original not-guilty plea regarding charges stemming from his federal campaign finance case.
As previously reported by The Tennessee Star, in October 2021, a federal grand jury in Nashville indicted Kelsey on a five-count indictment charging him and another man with violating multiple campaign finance laws. Prosecutors said Kelsey and Nashville social club owner Joshua Smith allegedly violated multiple campaign finance laws as part of a conspiracy to benefit Kelsey’s 2016 campaign for Congress.
At the time, Kelsey said he was innocent and the target of a political witch hunt.
Now, it appears Kelsey may have reached an agreement with federal prosecutors in the campaign finance investigation into his campaign for Congress in 2016 due to his lawyers filing a motion to change his plea of not guilty this week, according to The Tennessean.
Kelsey’s motion for a change in plea hearing comes nearly two weeks after Joshua Smith pleaded guilty as part of the investigation, which also suggests he was cooperating with prosecutors ahead of a trial that is scheduled for January, according to a press release by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The press release adds that Smith pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the solicitation, receipt, direction, transfer, and spending of soft money in connection with a federal election. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 9, 2023, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
In March, Kelsey announced that he would not be running for reelection and instead “intends to spend more time with his family.
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.