Tennessee Sen. Brian Kelsey to change federal plea
State Sen. Brian Kelsey, who is facing campaign finance violation charges in federal court, wants to change the not-guilty plea he initially entered in the case.
- Kelsey's attorneys asked for a hearing to enter a new plea in a filing Thursday. A trial had been scheduled to begin in January.
Why it matters: The change suggests the case could come to a close soon, capping a precipitous fall for Kelsey (R-Germantown), who had been a rising star in state politics before his indictment last year.
- Kelsey's co-defendant, Josh Smith, reached an agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to a charge in the case earlier this month.
The details: Prosecutors accused Kelsey and Smith of working with unnamed, unindicted co-conspirators, political groups and others to illegally funnel more than $106,000 from Kelsey's state campaign coffers to support his federal race in 2016.
- Kelsey forcefully denied the allegations when he was indicted, calling the case a "witch hunt." His lawyers did not respond to questions about the plea change.
The intrigue: Kelsey is still a state lawmaker, but not for long.
- He did not run for re-election, and his successor will be selected in the Nov. 8 election.
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