Brian Kelsey

Kelsey law license suspended following guilty plea

Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), right, attends a Senate Education Committee meeting in Nashville on April 16, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Former state Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) has had his law license suspended after pleading guilty to two federal felonies stemming from campaign finance crimes during his 2016 congressional bid.

Here’s the announcement from the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Responsibility:

On December 8, 2022, the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Brian Kirk Kelsey from the practice of law until further orders of the Court pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, Section 22.3. Mr. Kelsey pled Guilty to two (2) felonies involving conspiracy to defraud the United States and aiding and abetting the acceptance of excessive contributions.

Pursuant to the Order of the Supreme Court, the matter has been referred to the Board to institute formal proceedings to determine the extent of the final discipline to be imposed upon Mr. Kelsey as a result of his plea of guilty to conduct constituting a serious crime as defined by Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, Section 2.

Mr. Kelsey must comply with the requirements of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, Section 28, regarding the obligations and responsibilities of suspended attorneys.

New TNJ edition alert: Kelsey prison time math, House leadership votes, Funding Board goes low

Then-Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and former Rep. Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin) hold a press conference on Feb. 2, 2015. (Image Credit: Erik Schelzig)

The latest print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here is what’s in it:

— Feds: Contrition key to Kelsey avoiding extra prison time following guilty plea, former lawmaker admits deeds were ‘no accident.’

— State House Republicans stick mostly to status quo, Dems select new caucus chair.

— Funding board goes with extra low revenue projections. Again.

— Gov. Bill Lee’s administration makes its pick on “choice” lanes, hike in EV fees.

Also: Bob Corker says he doesn’t miss it, Beth Harwell chases Belle Meade burglar, Bill Lee hires a Kentucky state senator to run Health Department, Jeremy Durham gets a trial date.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

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New TNJ edition alert: McNally interview, Kelsey guilty plea, PAC spending roudup

Senate GOP leaders hold weekly press gaggle on Jan. 18, 2018. Senate Speaker Randy McNally is second from left. (Photo credit: Schelzig, Tennessee Journal.

The latest print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out early this week because of the holiday weekend. Here is what’s in it:

— TNJ Interview: Senate Speaker McNally talks legacy and charts course for future

— From the courts: Kelsey pleads guilty to 2 counts, state Supreme Court throws out mandatory life sentences for juveniles.

— Campaign finance update: PAC giving rose 5% compared with last election cycle.

Also: Eddie Mannis says he was “shut up” by House speaker, Jason Mumpower wonders why he has to wait at restaurants when so many people are moving to Tennessee, Andy Ogles gets fined by state for late mayoral disclosure, and a missing Joe Towns prophesy.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

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Kelsey’s change-of-plea hearing set for Nov. 22

Sen. Brian Kelsey walks in the state Capitol on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State Sen. Brian Kelsey’s change-of-plea hearing in the criminal case stemming from his 2016 congressional bid has been scheduled for Nov. 22.

Prosecutors last year charged Kelsey with orchestrating the illegal transfer of state campaign funds to a national conservative group to run ads supporting his run for federal office.

Kelsey, who had vociferously maintained his innocence in his few public comments since he was indicted, abruptly changed his tune last week by having his attorneys file a change-of-plea motion.
The move came a week after the guilty plea of co­defendant Josh Smith, the owner of a Nashville private club catering to GOP politicos. It also followed the previous weekend’s arrest of former Rep. Jeremy Durham on drunken driving charges in the city’s downtown tourist district. Durham, a Franklin Republican, is identified as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case, and Kelsey has intimated his longtime friend and political ally was cooperating with prosecutors in the case.

New TNJ edition alert: Kelsey waves the white flag, Harwell denies wrongdoing, state disclosure problems

Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), right, confers with then-Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) on the House floor in Nashville on April 30, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The latest print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here is what’s in it:

— Kelsey signals surrender in criminal case stemming from failed bid for Congress.

— Harwell denies doing anything wrong by bankrolling federal PAC with state money.

— Legislative candidates slow on the uptake for new state campaign finance reporting requirements.

— Ogles’ fundraising totals continue to sputter, but generic ballot suggests big GOP cushion.

Also: Former Nashville mayor penning book about rise and fall, Cade Cothren gets denied request for day trips to Alabama, longtime Rep. Barbara Cooper – the recipient of a former GOP senator’s infamous “rat’s ass” email — dies, and an independent gubernatorial candidate faces legal charges.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

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Kelsey, who angrily denied charges, to change plea in federal case

State Sen. Brian Kelsey denies wrongdoing in a video conference call following his indictment on Oct. 25, 2021. (Image: screengrab from call)

State Sen. Brian Kelsey, a Germantown Republican who blamed a political witch hunt for a federal indictment on campaign finance charges, now plans to change his not-guilty plea in the case.

Kelsey’s attorneys made the motion for a hearing on the matter on Thursday. The lawmaker’s codefendant, Nashville club owner Josh Smith, pleaded guilty last week.

Kelsey is accused of illegally transferring money from his state campaign account to Smith’s PAC and then directing the money to be redirected to a national group to spend on his 2016 congressional bid. Kelsey finished fourth in that contest.

U.S. District Judge Waverly Crenshaw has yet to schedule Kelsey’s change-of-plea hearing.

New TNJ alert: Guilty plea in Kelsey case, Durham appeals, pro-Harwell PAC gets Harwell funding

Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), right, and then-Rep. Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin) hold a press conference on Feb. 2, 2015. (Image Credit: Erik Schelzig)

The latest print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here is what’s in it:

— Restaurateur pleads guilty in Kelsey case, Durham appeals Registry fines

— Andy Ogles’ lackluster fundraising endures through third quarter while Heidi Campbell rakes it in.

— Independent expenditures PAC founded to help Beth Harwell got major funding from … Harwell.

— Nashville mayor proposes final piece of funding plan for stadium.

Also: Weston Wamp and Hamilton Count Commission at odds over firing attorney, the Volunteers crowdsource the money to replace goalposts after historic win, Mark Green get’s $600 worth of hair and makeup work, and Andy Ogles tries to place this Bill Frist guy.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

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New TNJ edition alert: Kelsey now flying solo, 3rd quarter fundraising totals, senators back Ogles

Brian Kelsey, center, awaits Gov. Bill Lee’s State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

This week’s print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here is what’s in it:

— And then there was one: Kelsey’s codefendant to plead guilty.

— Campaign finance roundup: Martin neck-in-neck with Lee in third quarter fundraising totals, but far behind in cash on hand.

— From the campaign trail: Blackburn and Hagerty headline fundraiser for Ogles with Cruz waiting in the wings; Lee channels the pope in his latest TV ad.

— Obituary: Larry Cole, former House clerk who wrote novel about a real statehouse romance.

Also: Internal polling points to wide support for “right to work” amendment, Tre Hargett strikes plea agreement in DUI case, John Rich hosts a fundraiser for a firebrand congresswoman in Nashville, and Cameron Sexton declares war on “political gibberish.”

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

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Kelsey codefendant Smith to plead guilty

Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), right, attends a Senate Education Committee meeting in Nashville on April 16, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Josh Smith, the proprietor of The Standard social club in Nashville, has struck an agreement with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to one charge of funneling soft money to state Sen. Brian Kelsey’s unsuccessful congressional bid in 2016. Kelsey, a Germantown Republican, remains a defendant on all five counts.

Smith’s attorneys say he plans to plead guilty to Count Two of the indictment, which alleges Smith had “solicited, received, directed, transferred, and spent” more than $25,000 while acting as an agent for Kelsey’s campaign for the GOP nomination in the 8th District in 2016.

According to the indictment, Kelsey funneled money from his state campaign account through political action committees controlled by Smith and Andy Miller Jr. to the American Conservative Union (ACU), which then spent $80,000 on radio ads supporting his bid for federal office. It was all for naught, as Kelsey finished a distant fourth in the Republican primary.

Kelsey has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing. He isn’t seeking re-election this year.

The trial is scheduled for January.

New TNJ alert: Here come the subpoenas, slammed doors, and divining rods

House members attend a floor session in Nashville on Jan. 12, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The new edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here’s what’s in it:

— It’s subpoena time in the federal probe that ensnared ex-Rep. Robin Smith. At least three lawmakers and a legislative staffer are set to appear before the grand jury next week.

— Lee’s budget amendment signals the end is near for this year’s legislative session.

— Legislative roundup: Terri Lynn Weaver slams the door after failing to get a second, Indian gaming proposal stalls, the legislature grabs the authority to name six of nine members of the state Board of Education, and it won’t get any easier for minor parties to get on the ballot.

— Andy Ogles jumps into 5th Congressional District race, but his campaign infrastructure has yet to catch up.

Also: Jason Hodges welcomes the FBI to the Capitol, indicted Sen. Brian Kelsey honored as a “public-spirited citizen of the highest order,” Tennessee could grow by 1 million residents in next 20 years, and the state GOP asks for cash for a new computer.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

Or subscribe here.

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