MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Department of Justice is talking to Tennessee lawmakers – they're asking questions about whether money was taken from Senator Brian Kelsey's state accounts and placed into his congressional account, according to The Daily Memphian.
FOX13 spoke to University of Memphis Law professor Steve Mulroy about what exactly the allegations entail.
Download the FOX13 Memphis app to receive alerts from breaking news in your neighborhood.
“In this case, the allegation is that Senator Kelsey got around the limit on moving money from his state campaign account to his federal campaign account by a series of straw donations,” Mulroy said. “In order for there to be a violation, there has to be what the law calls ‘coordination.’ Sort of a secret agreement, a ‘wink, wink, nudge, nudge, I’ll send you money then you send money back.’
“If there wasn’t that kind of coordination, there’s really nothing to see here. It’s not a violation of campaign finance law,” Mulroy said.
The Daily Memphian also reported that a complaint was filed with the Federal Election Commission.
The allegations are out there, so FOX13 wanted to get Kelsey’s side.
FOX13 asked for a sit-down interview via text, left a voicemail, and sent an email. His assistant said he was unavailable for an interview Wednesday, but she did send over a statement on his behalf:
Mulroy said the fact that Kelsey welcomes an investigation is “good.”
“The fact that he’s saying he welcomes an investigation, that’s good. It’s quite possible that there was no coordination. That’s the key thing. It could be that he donated money to third parties, and they, on their own, without any prior agreement, decided to send some money back to his campaign account,” Mulroy said. “They admire him, he admires them, it’s just a coincidence.
"If that’s the case, there’s no violation.”
© 2020 Cox Media Group