Brian Kelsey

Democrat criticizes closed-door meeting of voucher advocates Kelsey ad DeVos

State Sen. Brian Kelsey, a leading advocate in so-unsuccessful efforts to establish a school voucher system in Tennessee, met behind closed doors Monday with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, reports The Tennessean. Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini denounced the meeting and the participants.

The meeting was disclosed on the U.S. secretary of education’s website containing DeVos’ weekly schedule.

DeVos, a supporter of charter schools and using public funds to send children to private school, known as vouchers, is a frequent target for Democrats. Noting Kelsey has repeatedly introduced legislation to allow school vouchers, Mancini said, “Public schools in every ZIP code need to be fully funded, and privatization would stretch funding even thinner than it currently is, hurting schools in every part of the state.”

… In addition to Kelsey’s work on vouchers, Mancini also criticized his support for DeVos. In February, Kelsey stumped for DeVos while she was undergoing a tense confirmation process.

… “It seems clear that Senator Kelsey is pushing programs devised by the special interests funding his campaigns and supported by extremists like Secretary DeVos,” Mancini said. “Tennesseans deserve to know what this meeting was about and why Senator Kelsey continues to file legislation that would devastate our public schools.”

Kelsey and his legislative assistant did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the meeting with DeVos.

Complaint filed with FEC contends campaign finance law violated by Kelsey congressional campaign

News release from Campaign Legal Center

WASHINGTON –  Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and Democracy 21 (D21) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and will file with the Department of Justice (DOJ) against former Congressional candidate Brian Kelsey and others, including the American Conservative Union (ACU), for their part in a scheme to circumvent contribution limits and disclosure laws by illegally funneling funds from Kelsey’s state account through intermediaries to secretly support Kelsey’s run for U.S. Congress in 2016.

“In order to disguise the illegal transfer of prohibited state money into his federal race, it appears that Kelsey concocted a scheme to pass the money through a dark money daisy chain and straw donor reimbursement plot,” said Brendan Fischer, director, federal and FEC reform at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center. “Kelsey appears to have stacked legal violation on top of legal violation, and we anticipate that the FEC and DOJ will take this very seriously.”

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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