Tennessee state Senator Brian Kelsey (R) was indicted on Monday in connection to an alleged campaign finance scheme during his 2016 run for U.S. Congress.  The alleged is said to have violated finance laws by concealing the transfer of $91,000 during the Republican’s 2016 failed congressional campaign, federal investigators announced Monday.

A federal grand jury in Nashville, on Friday,  handed down the five-count indictment against Kelsey and Joshua Smith, the owner of The Standard, a restaurant and private club near the state Capitol. According to the acting U.S. attorneys office for the state’s middle and western districts, and an assistant attorney general from the Federal Justice Department said in a new release.

According to the indictment, Kelsey, Smith and others arranged the transfer of $91,000 to a national political organization to finance advertisements that bolstered Kelsey’s 2016 campaign for the U.S. House. Also, the conspirators’ actions allegedly caused the political organization to make $80,000 in coordinated expenditures to Kelsey’s federal campaign committee. Authorities did not name the national organization. 

Both men face a maximum of five years in prison if convicted. They are scheduled to make their first court appearances before the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on November 5.
Brendan Fischer, Director of the Campaign Legal Center’s Federal Reform Program commended authorities for the charges on Monday by saying, “We’re certainly pleased that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken our complaint seriously. This is a serious violation.  Kelsey concocted a scheme to disguise the illegal transfer of prohibited state money into his federal race.” The FBI is also investigating the case according to the (DOJ).

Senator Kelsey has previously said, “I welcome any investigation because all donations were made in compliance with the law and on the advice of counsel,”​ according to the Tennessean.

Kelsey, is from Germantown and took aim at Democrats as he responded to the charges and said, “President Joe Biden’s administration is trying to take me out because I’m a conservative and I’m the number one target of the Tennessee Democratic Party. I won my seat only 51 to 49 last time and Democrats think this will make the difference. They’re wrong.” Kelsey’s remarks came during a brief statement made online to reporters, who were not permitted to ask questions.

Kelsey was elected to the General Assembly in 2009 and serves as Chairman of the Senate Education Committee. He’s up for reelection in 2022.

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