Ex-Tennessee State Senator Pleads Guilty to Charges He Previously Called a ‘Political Witch Hunt’

Former Tennessee state Sen. Brian Kelsey

By Steve Neavling

Former Tennessee state Sen. Brian Kelsey, who says criminal charges filed against him were part of “a political witch hunt,” has pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws and conspiring to defraud the Federal Election Commission. 

Kelsey, 44, was involved in an illegal campaign finance scheme in connection with his failed congressional bid in 2016. 

Kelsey admitted to funneling more than $90,000 from his state campaign to his federal campaign. 

Kelsey also gave a $106,000 check to Nashville social club owner Joshua Smith in order to steer it to national Republican groups. Those groups then helped Kelsey’s congressional campaign, prosecutors said. 

Kelsey pleaded guilty last week. 

He initially pleaded not guilty and said the charges were “nothing but a political witch hunt,” a phrase often used by former President Donald Trump. 

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