Tennessee State Senator pleads guilty to federal fraud charges

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 5:28 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey pleaded guilty to campaign finance charges on Tuesday.

Kelsey pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws and conspiring to defraud the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as part of his 2016 campaign for U.S. Congress, according to officials.

Both Kelsey and Joshua Smith, of Nashville, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Nashville in October 2021 and were charged with violating several campaign finance laws.

According to a preliminary release, Kelsey, 44, of Germantown, admitted he conspired to and did secretly funnel money from several sources, including his own Tennessee State Senate campaign committee to his federal campaign committee.

Kelsey and Smith also caused a national political organization to make contributions to Kelsey’s federal campaign committee by working with the organization on advertisements that supported Kelsey’s federal candidacy and caused false reports of contributions and expenditures to be filed with the FEC, the release said.

Kelsey and other conspirators orchestrated the concealed movement of $91,000 to $66,000 that came from Kelsey’s State Senate campaign committee, and $25,000 from a nonprofit corporation that publicly advocated legal justice issues to a national political organization for the purpose of funding advertisements that urged voters to support Kelsey in the August 2016 primary election, according to prosecutors.

Kelsey, Smith and others also caused the political organization to make $80,000 worth of contributions to Kelsey’s federal campaign committee in the form of coordinated expenditures.

Smith also pleaded guilty in October to helping and abetting the solicitation, receipt, direction, transfer and spending of a soft money in connection with a federal election and will be awaiting sentencing.