sentencing

Kelsey appealing 21-month sentence in campaign finance case

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

Former state Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) is appealing his 21-month prison sentence following his guilty plea to two felonies related to his 2016 bid for Congress.

Kelsey filed notice but didn’t elaborate on what basis he will bring his challenge to the 6th Circuit U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Kelsey’s latest set of attorneys had argued that the former lawmaker shouldn’t face any time behind bars.

New TNJ edition alert: Motions to dismiss in Phoenix Solutions case, Kelsey sentencing draw near

Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin) appears before the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance on March 3, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

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

— Defendants: Deception about Phoenix Solutions wasn’t a crime.

— From the campaign trail: Nashville to decide mayor’s race next week, field set in Memphis.

— Kelsey chronicles: Prosecutors seek longer sentence after Kelsey’s bid to renege on plea.

Also: Jonathan Skrmetti says he’s not targeting women seeking abortions out of state, Todd Gardenhire calls suburban gun protesters ‘hypocritical,’ Jim Strickland and Steve Mulroy get into war of words, and Cade Cothren says the state and the General Assembly are not the same.

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

Or subscribe here.

GOP executive committee member tells judge Kelsey has ‘suffered enough already’

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

State Republican Party executive committee member Peggy Larkin is urging U.S. District Judge Waverly Crenshaw not to sentence former Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) to any time behind bars following his guilty plea to federal campaign finance crimes.

“I believe that Brian and his family have suffered enough already and [he] will be a greater benefit to society serving outside of prison,” Larkin writes.

Kelsey is scheduled to be sentenced on March 28.

Read the full letter dated Jan. 21 here:

Dear Chief Judge Crenshaw:

I am privileged to write this letter in support of Brian Kelsey. I have known Brian as a good friend for 25 years and during that time have observed him as an outstanding young attorney. I have worked with
Brian in the political arena and find him to be a model citizen of his community.

Brian shows extreme professionalism in his work as well as those he serves. He is always courteous, and exceedingly kind to his fellow man. He is industrious, energetic, loyal, and generous.

At Georgetown he was the President of the Christian Legal Society. He served in the office of Counsel to the President of the United States; in the office of U.S. Senator Bill Frist, and served in the office of U.S. Representative Ed Bryant.

At UNC, he was the leader of the Greek Life Bible Study and AGO TV Volunteer. At the University of Memphis Law School, he was an Adjunct Professor of Government Relations in 2017. In the fall of 2010 and 2011 he served as an Undergraduate Adjunct Professor of Constitutional Law.

Brian was the only senator in Tennessee history to successfully pass more than one constitutional amendment. He passed three. He served as the Judiciary Committee Chairman in 2009-2018 Senate. He also served as chairman of the Education Committee Chairman during this time.

He was the Student Chapter President at the Georgetown University Law Center, and a member of The Federalist Society. He served on the American Legislative Exchange Council, and was Chairman of the Civil Justice Task Force Council of State Governments; American Federation for Children; Tennessee Holocaust Commission, and a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association. In addition he was voted the Legislator of the Year 2018 and 2011. He received the Conservative Excellent Award in 2017 and 2015 from the American Conservative Union. In 2008 he won the Pro Bono Award. The list does not end here.

Brian has a heart for public service and has worked diligently for the past 18 years preserving our conservative values, providing jobs for Tennesseans, improving our children’s education, and keeping us safe in Tennessee. He either sponsored or worked on committees that put the Right to Work in our state constitution, allowing students to return to in-person learning, helped in recruiting Ford Motor Company jobs to West Tennessee, banned critical Race Theory from our schools, let first responders live where they want, and protected constitutional rights during the pandemic.

Brian and his wife, Amanda, have three children. One daughter, and twin boys. Bryan’s character is beyond impeccable. He is a Christian and practices his faith daily. He is from a well-known, and well-respected family in Memphis. His mother is an educator. His brother is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. His dad is a successful businessperson, and sadly, currently undergoing cancer treatment [Robert Kelsey died on Feb. 2].

I believe that Brian and his family have suffered enough already and will be a greater benefit to society serving outside of prison.

/signed/

Peggy C. Larkin

State Executive Committee Woman

District thirty-one

Sexton agenda as House speaker includes health care, sentencing, early childhood reading

Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) speaks to the House Republican Caucus after winning their nomination for speaker on July 24, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

New Speaker Cameron Sexton gave a wide-ranging speech to the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce last week, outlining his agenda as he takes the reins of the Tennessee House of Representatives. The Crossville Republican took aim at health insurance companies for acting like “big brother” by blocking information about taxpayer-funded services and for having “absolute control over the marketplace.” He also called for stronger truth-in-sentencing laws, better funding for early childhood reading programs, and a long-term approach to spending Temporary Assistance for Needy Families reserves.

Sexton speech was in contrast to his predecessor, Glen Casada, who often appeared more driven by political considerations than political ones. Sexton also placed several stakes in the ground that could end up being at odds with the plans of Republican Gov. Bill Lee as he heads into his second session.

Here is a transcript of Sexton’s speech:

It’s great to be here this morning and see so many familiar faces as we look forward to what next week may bring. One of the question and I usually I get all the time is ‘When do you think we’re going to get out?’ I get 50 variations of the question because I usually won’t answer it, and they say, ‘Well, you know I’m planning and trip and it’s looking like this date.’ And my question back to them is: ‘well, is it refundable?’ We make no promises, but we’re hoping to have a very good session, a very productive session, and we’re hoping to announce in the coming couple days or week some processes and changes we’re making to hopefully make it more efficient and flow a little bit better.

I’d like to start out the day by saying, isn’t Tennessee doing great? The Tennessee Vols won the Gator Bowl and the Tennessee Titans beat the Patriots. And oh yeah, we have a pretty good economy in the state of Tennessee as well. But one of the things I have learned is it doesn’t really matter what’s going on, if the Tennessee Titans and Tennessee Vols are doing well, Tennessee is happy, so everything looks pretty good in the state and as long as we keep that going, we’re going to do very good. So everything looks like it’s settling in right into place four months into my speakership. Tennessee’s happy, so I’m happy.

But it’s an honor to be here today, and I very much appreciate this opportunity to speak with you. Back in 1994 – I know some of you know this and some you may not – I worked on my first political campaign after graduating from the University of Tennessee. It was a state Senate race and I worked for a great candidate, although have we ever really met anyone who says they hadn’t worked for a candidate – everybody’s candidate is great. But I can tell you this candidate was really, really good. And if you fast forward 26 years to today, I have this opportunity to lead the House, and I’m very fortunate to have this opportunity, but I do beside that very same state Senator I worked for in 1994, Lt. Governor Randy McNally, as he is preparing to lead the Senate, and I look forward to the partnership with him as we continue to move Tennessee forward.

We have been very fortunate as a state to have had many great leaders who have laid a solid foundation for us, and each one has passed the torch to the next person and everyone has taken it and continued to move. And now it’s is in our hands and we have to fill the purpose and the destiny that they helped us get to. 

But I don’t want to just hold serve, I don’t want to take a knee, and I sure don’t want to run out the clock. I believe we are tasked to accept it and make it shine brighter for all Tennesseans. Because isn’t that what America’s greatest generation did for us many years ago when they sacrificed and made things better for us?

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