Tennessee State senator indicted on campaign finance violations

Tennessee state Sen. Brian Kelsey
Tennessee state Sen. Brian Kelsey. Photo courtesy of the Tennessee General Assembly

State Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, was indicted and charged with violating federal campaign finance laws in an effort to support his unsuccessful 2016 bid for Congress.

  • Federal prosecutors announced the indictment Monday. Kelsey maintained his innocence, saying he is the victim of "a political witch hunt."
  • The indictment also charged Joshua Smith, the owner of The Standard social club, with participating in the alleged scheme.
Nate Rau
20 hours ago - Politics

Price tag for Metro land deal goes up

Nashville Mayor John Cooper.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper. Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Two-and-a-half years after the Metro Council failed to purchase the former Tennessee School for the Blind building for $11.3 million, Nashville Mayor John Cooper is proposing to buy the state-owned property for $20 million.

  • Cooper, an at-large council member at the time, was one of six votes against the land purchase proposed by then-Mayor David Briley in June 2019. The purchase needed 21 votes to pass but received just 17. Cooper went on to defeat Briley in the mayoral election in September.
Nate Rau
Oct 25, 2021 - Politics

Nashville commits $1B to capital spending in 2021

Nashville Mayor John Cooper speaks on a podium.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper. Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Fifth + Broadway

Nashville Mayor John Cooper on Friday unveiled $568 million in construction and infrastructure projects, running up the city's capital spending commitments this year to over $1 billion.

Why it matters: Hamstrung financially by the pandemic and tornado recovery, Cooper followed up modest capital commitments in previous years with two substantial spending plans in 2021.

Nate Rau
Oct 21, 2021 - Politics

Hagerty backs Emanuel nomination

A shot of Sen. Bill Hagerty discussing in chamber.
Sen. Bill Hagerty. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Bill Hagerty reached across the aisle Wednesday to offer vital support for President Biden's nomination of former Congress member and ex-Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, to be the next ambassador to Japan.

Why it matters: Hagerty was himself a former ambassador to Japan, making his support even more notable. He took the unique step of personally introducing Emanuel, a Democrat, to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Nate Rau
Oct 20, 2021 - Politics

Rare ethics complaint filed against Planning commissioner

Fountains going off in front of Nashville City Hall and Court House.
Nashville City Hall and Courthouse. Photo: John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Metro Board of Ethical Conduct next week will consider an ethics complaint filed against Planning Commission member Pearl Sims over whether she was impartial when considering a recent zoning proposal.

Why it matters: Ethics complaints against city officials are rare and there is a high threshold for the board to find wrongdoing.

Nate Rau
Oct 19, 2021 - Politics

Scoop: Challenger enters Nashville's DA race

headshot of woman standing in front of capital
Danielle Nellis. Photo provided by Danielle Nellis campaign.

Danielle Nellis, who clerked for a Nashville judge and previously worked as a prosecutor, plans to challenge District Attorney Glenn Funk in the Democratic primary next year.

Why it matters: Nellis is the first opponent for Funk, who was elected in 2014.

  • A Nashville native, Nellis attended Spelman College and earned her law degree from Boston University.
  • At the DA's office, she handled domestic violence cases as well as prosecutions ranging from misdemeanors to major felonies.

What they're saying: Nellis said her time in the DA's office taught her "how crime impacts victims and families involved on all sides, as well as how the community at large is impacted."

  • She's running because "despite the efforts of many skilled and well-intentioned people in Nashville, we are dealing with an increase in crime and violence. And, we want to make sure our city is safe and that we do something to address the increase in crime that disproportionately affects our most vulnerable,” Nellis told Axios.
  • Nellis, 38, was a clerk for Judge Angela Blackshear Dalton for two years before recently joining the firm of Klein Solomon Mills.

Go deeper: Nellis rose through the ranks as a prosecutor before resigning in 2018 when a WSMV investigation found she applied for the job of a man she was prosecuting.

  • Funk alerted the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility about the issue, and its investigation found no ethical issues with her actions, according to WSMV. Nellis told Axios she believes the circumstances surrounding her departure will be a "non-issue" in the campaign.
Adam Tamburin
Oct 19, 2021 - News

Transportainment's moment of truth in Nashville

party bus
A 'Music City Party Tub' bus drives past the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Efforts to rein in Nashville party buses will face a critical test tonight.

  • A popular bill to regulate large entertainment vehicles is scheduled to come up for a final vote, but first the lead sponsor is considering some last-minute changes.

Why it matters: Transportainment is the latest symbol of Nashville's complicated relationship with tourism.

Rep. Cooper grows campaign war chest

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper speaks on stage in front of a microphone.
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper. Photo: Jason Davis/WireImage for The Recording Academy

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper has built a sizable fundraising advantage over his top challenger in the Democratic primary for Tennessee’s fifth congressional district with just under a year to go before the 2022 election.


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