The Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville. Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons

This story was republished with permission from the Tennessee Lookout. Read the original story here.

Sen. Brian Kelsey has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly funneling money from his state campaign account to his congressional campaign, a violation of federal law.

A federal grand jury in Nashville returned a five-count indictment against Kelsey, 43, a Germantown Republican, on Friday charging him and Nashville social club owner Joshua Smith, 44, with violating multiple campaign finance laws as part of a conspiracy to bolster his 2016 congressional campaign, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown. Photo provided by Tennessee General Assembly

Kelsey and Smith conspired with others from February 2016 through mid-October 2016 to violate campaign finance laws and illegally shift “soft money,” funds not subject to Federal Election Campaign requirements, from the senator’s state account to his federal campaign committee, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office. 

The indictment also accuses Kelsey and others of using a national political organization to make illegal, excessive contributions to Kelsey’s federal campaign committee by secretly coordinating with the organization on advertisements supporting his federal candidacy and to cause false reports of contributions and expenditures to be filed with the FEC.

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

The indictment alleges that Kelsey, Smith, and other unindicted co-conspirators orchestrated the concealed movement of $91,000 to a national political organization for the purpose of funding advertisements that urged voters to support Kelsey in the August 2016 primary election, and that the conspirators caused the political organization to make $80,000 worth of contributions to Kelsey’s federal campaign committee in the form of coordinated expenditures. 

The indictment alleges other meetings and communications between the conspirators, resulting in the illegal transfers, contributions, and expenditures associated with Kelsey’s federal campaign. 

Kelsey and Smith are charged with conspiracy, illegally transferring “soft money” as a federal candidate and his agent, and illegally transferring “soft money” as a state officeholder and his agent. Kelsey is also charged with making excessive contributions to a federal campaign and accepting excessive contributions.  If convicted, they face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.

A summons has been issued by the court and Kelsey and Smith are directed to surrender to U.S. Marshals in the Middle District of Tennessee on or before Nov. 5, 202, at 10 a.m. and both will make an initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge.

This case 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 Trial Attorney John Taddei of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice are prosecuting the case.

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