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Codefendant in Tennessee campaign fraud case pleads guilty

Tenn. State Sen. Brian Kelsey (R) Germantown, TN
Sen. Kelsey
Tenn. State Sen. Brian Kelsey (R) Germantown, TN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Nashville social club owner has pleaded guilty to a campaign finance scheme that also involves a Tennessee state senator's failed 2016 congressional campaign.

Joshua Smith pleaded guilty on Wednesday to aiding and abetting the solicitation and spending of at least $25,000 of so-called “soft money” in connection with a federal election.

Soft money is not subject to federal limitations and reporting requirements. He faces up to five years in prison.

The plea comes three months before Republican state Sen. Brian Kelsey is scheduled to head to trial after pleading not guilty. Kelsey is not seeking reelection this year and has criticized the charges as a “political witch hunt.”

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