MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It has been a full week since disgraced Republican state senator Brian Kelsey pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to violate federal campaign finance laws.
That’s seven days of Kelsey officially being a convicted felon after he repeatedly told us the charges against him were a political witch hunt orchestrated by the Joe Biden Administration.
We have yet to hear the magic words that he has resigned, nor have we heard any leaders in the Tennessee senate – notably lieutenant governor and senate speaker Randy McNally – calling for his immediate removal. That’s a far cry from what we heard from McNally and other GOP legislative leaders – when they expelled Democratic state Senator Katrina Robinson in February – after she was convicted on far less serious charges that those leveled against Kelsey.
Back then, McNally said the integrity of the senate was at stake and Robinson needed to go. Well, what about now? And no, it does not matter than Kelsey did not seek reelection this year – and will be replaced in January by Republican Brent Taylor. Kelsey is still technically a senator who also is a felon and he should do the right thing and resign immediately.
Anything less merely underscores the hypocrisy of the state legislature. The failure to insist that Kelsey step down is a failure of leadership. It’s just one more reason why this elected body lacks credibility.