No PAC funds for legal fees: Sen. Brian Kelsey under scrutiny.

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Tennessee’s former Sen. Brian Kelsey cannot use funds from his political action committee (PAC) to pay for legal fees related to his appeal for a conviction of violating federal campaign finance law, according to Bill Young, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. Kelsey had transferred $196,833 from his state campaign account to his Red State PAC and sought a legal opinion on whether the money could be used for his legal fees. Young stated that state law prohibits the use of campaign funds for personal use and that such use would violate state law. Kelsey had pleaded guilty two years ago to directing a campaign fund scheme, but later retracted his guilty plea.

Young argued that Kelsey’s legal case is tangentially related to his candidacy as a state senator and that the funds from the PAC would be used for his personal defense in violating federal statutes. He urged Jennifer Martinez, chair of Red State PAC, to seek guidance from the Federal Election Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Young also said that the PAC cannot give the money to a nonprofit to pay for Kelsey’s legal fees. The advisory opinion from Young drew pushback from Registry board members, who raised concerns about the board getting involved in a judicial matter.

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