What does Kelsey indictment mean for Education chairmanship, leading role in Lee’s funding review?

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

The indictment of Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) on federal campaign finance charges starts the clock on whether he will try to cling on to his chairmanship of the Education Committee.

According to the Senate’s code of ethics, members have 10 days from the indictment to ask for a hearing to challenge a suspension from a committee leadership position. If no such request is lodged, the suspension takes effect “as long as the indictment is being actively pursued.”

Vice Chair Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) would presumably take over if Kelsey is suspended.

Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Germantown) issued the following statement:

I am obviously saddened by this news. It is important to remember that under our laws, Senator Kelsey is innocent until proven guilty. He will have the opportunity to answer this indictment in the coming days. I have confidence in our judicial system and will reserve judgment and comment at this point in order to allow the process to unfold.”

Gov. Bill Lee last week named Kelsey to his 12-member steering committee on overhauling the Basic Education Program school funding formula.

Lee spokeswoman Laine Arnold said Kelsey serves on the panel by virtue of his chairmanship, so there are “no changes now but we are monitoring the situation.”