The Senate Ethics Committee is recommending South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham for campaign contributions inside a federal building after a November 2022 Fox News interview in which she asked the audience to donate to a GOP candidate.
In a rare public letter released Thursday, ethics panel leaders said Graham violated Senate rules and standards of conduct because he was in a Senate office building during the interview.
“The public must feel confident that members use public resources only for government activities in the best interest of the United States, not for partisan political activity,” wrote Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, and Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford, the panel’s Republican vice chairman. “Your actions have failed to uphold that standard, resulting in a loss of public trust and confidence in the United States Senate. You are hereby cautioned.”
Coons and Lankford wrote that Graham solicited campaign contributions for Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s campaign committee “five separate times” during a November 30, 2022 interview on Fox News. They noted that Graham reported himself to the committee after the interview was over.
In a statement on Thursday, Graham said: “It was a mistake. I take responsibility. I will try to do better in the future.”
It is unclear if Graham could face any criminal penalties for his actions. Coons and Lankford said it was the senator’s second violation, after he similarly solicited campaign contributions for his own campaign during an unscheduled hallway interview in 2020.
The ethics committee dismissed that complaint and notified Graham in a private letter, Coons and Lankford wrote. The panel has not publicly disclosed that violation until now, determining at the time that its conduct was “unscientific, technical or otherwise of a minor nature,” the letter said.
The ban on campaign solicitations in federal buildings and the use of federal resources for campaign activity “has been consistent and evident throughout your years of Senate service,” they wrote, and despite specific instructions from the committee Graham requested campaign contributions in the November interview. Following your breach in October 2020.”
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