Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) was indicted last Friday for allegedly violating multiple campaign finance laws leading up to his unsuccessful 2016 congressional campaign.
Also named in the five-count indictment is Joshua Smith, owner and operator of The Standard, “a members-only social club in Nashville popular among politicians and Nashville businessmen.”
The indictment alleges that Kelsey moved more than $90,000 from his state account to his congressional campaign, which is a violation of federal law.
Kelsey responded to the indictment on Twitter earlier this week.
“This is nothing but a political witch hunt. The Biden Administration is trying to take me out because I’m conservative, and I’m the #1 target of the Tennessee Democratic Party. I won my seat only 51 to 49 percent last time, and the Democrats think this will make the difference,” Kelsey posted on Oct. 25. “They’re wrong. These five-year-old, unfounded allegations have been reviewed and re-reviewed. They were wrong then, and they’re wrong now. I’m totally innocent, and I look forward to being cleared at trial.”
Kelsey, 43, chairs the Senate Education Committee and was appointed to serve on Gov. Bill Lee’s steering committee to review the Basic Education Program.
The indictments states that, “Beginning at least from on or about February 1, 2016, and continuing through on or about October 13, 2016, in the Middle District of Tennessee and elsewhere, the Defendants, Brian Kelsey and Joshua Smith, did knowingly conspire and agree together and with each other and with other individuals both known and unknown to the Grand Jury, including Unindicted Coconspirator 1 and Unindicted Coconspirator 2, to defraud the United States for the purpose of impeding, impairing, obstructing and defeating the lawful functions of the Federal Election Commission in the administration and enforcement of the Election Act.”
It continues to state that, “The manner and means of the conspiracy included the following:
a. The conspirators would and did solicit, receive, direct, transfer, and spend $106,341.66 of funds from State Committee 1 to influence Kelsey’s 2016 primary election for the U.S. House of Representatives.
b. The conspirators would and did orchestrate the concealed movement of $91,000 — $66,000-of which came from State Committee 1 and $25,000 of which came from Political Organization 2-to Political Organization 1 for the coordinated purpose of funding advertisements that urged voters to support KELSEY in the primary election, which occurred on or about August 4, 2016.
c. The conspirators would and did cause Political Organization 1 to make $80,000 worth of hidden contributions to Federal Committee 1 in the form of coordinated expenditures.
d. The conspirators would and did cause Federal Committee 1 and Political Organization 1 to make and keep false records and submit false repo1is to the FEC.”
The case was investigated by the FBI.
A summons has been issued by the court. Kelsey and Smith are to surrender to U.S. marshals in the Middle District of Tennessee on or before 10 a.m. on Nov. 5.
Both men will make an initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge.