Former Tennessee Sen. Brian Kelsey Hit With Jail Time For Campaign Finance Scheme

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A federal judge handed former Republican Tennessee Sen. Brian Kelsey a 21-month prison sentence over campaign finance charges Friday, according to a local report.

Brian Kelsey initially pleaded guilty to directing money from his campaign account to a number of political action committees (PACs) for the purpose of paying for political advertisements, The Tennessean reported. Kelsey allegedly paid the American Conservative Union for advertisements to support his 2016 push to get into Congress.

“His actions were willful, deliberate and directly contrary to advice he was given by political advisers and an attorney,” U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Henry C. Leventis said, according to the outlet. “These were not isolated errors in judgment. Brian Kelsey’s crimes were calculated, they were complex, they were multifaceted and they denied Tennesseans the right to transparency, which would allow them to make informed decisions about their vote.” (RELATED: In Less Than A Year, 3/4 Of The ‘Squad’ Is Under Financial Investigation)

U.S. District Court Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr. said Kelsey must also undergo three years of supervised release when his prison sentence expires, The Tennessean continued.

Kelsey switched his plea from guilty to not guilty earlier in 2023. He attempted to argue via court filings and during a hearing in May that stress lead him to plead guilty, although he “privately” insisted he was innocent, The Tennessean reported. Kelsey’s move reportedly irked prosecutors and caused them to push for a longer sentence.

“I am sorry that I made this mistake, and I will always regret it,” the former senator said after receiving his prison sentence, according to the outlet. “I am sorry for letting down my constituents and the public.”

“His defiance now shows a remarkable lack of respect for the law,” prosecutor John Taddei argued, The Tennessean reported.

Kelsey showed some remorse while requesting probation or house arrest, according to the outlet.

“I knew I was taking a risk and that was on the line of what was legal and illegal,” he said. “It’s a decision I’m going to regret for the rest of my life.”