Sanford: the negative news keeps coming from the Tennessee legislature

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view on the latest federal investigation involving State Rep. Brian Kelsey.

The Tennessee legislature spent the majority of this year preoccupied with scandal. Most of it involved former Republican House speaker Glen Casada, who was forced out of that job by members of his own party for a laundry list of bad behavior.

But the negative news just keeps on coming. Now we’ve learned that Republican state Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown is under federal investigation for possible campaign finance violations. And this is no petty partisan inquiry. We’re talking about FBI agents asking lots of questions about money changing several hands, to support Kelsey’s unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2016.

The investigation comes after news reports in the Nashville Tennessean newspaper linking Kelsey’s congressional campaign to a complicated arrangement that involved possibly illegal contributions. So far, FBI agents have interviewed current and former state lawmakers, including former Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey. A Nashville councilman has also been questioned.

A key focus of the investigation seems to be a contribution of $106,000 from Kelsey’s state legislative campaign to a Political Action Committee. Most of that money may have then been routed illegally into Kelsey’s congressional campaign for radio ads.

Kelsey told The Tennessean this week he welcomes the investigation, insisting all donations were done legally.

Whether that’s true remains to be seen. But this is just one more scandalous story from a legislature that, this year at least, is full them. And that’s my point of view.

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