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Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), right, chats with Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) upstairs at the house in Nashville on April 30, 2019 (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A grand jury has indicted State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) with five counts of violating federal campaign finance laws related to his failed 2016 congressional candidacy.

According to the indictment, Kelsey and Josh Smith, the owner of The Standard social club in Nashville, conspired with others to “secretly and illegally pass cash” between the senator’s state account. and his federal campaign.

“Kelsey and others have also induced a national political organization to make illegal and excessive contributions to Kelsey’s Federal Campaign Committee by secretly coordinating with the organization on advertisements supporting Kelsey’s federal candidacy and causing the filing of false reports of contributions and expenses to the Federal Election Commission. “, According to a press release from the Ministry of Justice.

The conservative news site The Dispatch reported earlier this month that federal investigators were examining Matt Schlapp and the Conservative Union of America’s dealings over what one person called their “knowledge of the events leading up to Brian Kelsey’s endorsement.” .

Kelsey reissued her standard statement on the investigation for Sending: “I welcome any investigation as all donations were made in accordance with the law and on the advice of a lawyer. “

Here is the full press release from the US Attorney’s Office in Nashville:

NASHVILLE – On Friday, a federal grand jury in Nashville released an indictment of five counts accusing Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey, 43, of Germantown, Tennessee, and the owner of the Nashville Social Club , Joshua Smith, 44, for violating several campaign finance laws in connection with a conspiracy to benefit Kelsey’s 2016 campaign for the US Congress.

Acting U.S. Attorney Mary Jane Stewart for the Central District of Tennessee, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, and Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee Joseph C. Murphy, Jr. made the announcement.

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 in order to covertly and illegally channel “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 its authorized Federal Campaign Committee. Kelsey and others also tricked a national political organization into making illegal and excessive contributions to Kelsey’s Federal Campaign Committee by secretly coordinating with the organization on ads supporting Kelsey’s federal candidacy and causing false filing. contribution and expense reports to the Federal Election Commission.

In 2016, the FECA limited campaign contributions to $ 2,700 from any individual or organization to one candidate in each election.

The indictment alleges that Kelsey, Smith and other unindicted accomplices orchestrated the covert $ 91,000 move to a national political organization to fund advertisements urging voters to support Kelsey in the elections. primary elections of August 2016, and that the conspirators caused political organization. Contribute $ 80,000 to the Kelsey Federal Campaign Committee in the form of coordinated spending. The indictment alleges further meetings and communications between the conspirators, resulting in illegal transfers, contributions and expenses associated with Kelsey’s federal campaign.

Kelsey and Smith are charged with conspiracy, illegal transfer of “soft money” as a federal candidate and his agent, and illegal transfer of “soft money” as a public office holder and his agent. Kelsey is also accused of making excessive contributions to a federal campaign and accepting excessive contributions. If found guilty, they face up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $ 250,000 on each count.

A subpoena has been issued by the court and Kelsey and Smith are due to surrender to the US Marshals in the Middle District of Tennessee no later than November 5, 202 at 10 a.m. and both will appear before a trial judge for the first time. American.

This matter was investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda Klopf of the Middle District of Tennessee and David Pritchard of the Western District of Tennessee and Attorney John Taddei of the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice are continuing the case.

An indictment is only an accusation. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court.

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