The Senate Ethics Committee issued a Public Letter of Admonition on Thursday after finding that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) repeatedly violated Senate Rules and “related standards of conduct by soliciting campaign contributions in a federal building.”
The Committee launched an investigation after receiving a formal complaint alleging that Graham solicited campaign donations for Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker during a media interview that was conducted in the Russell Senate Office Building on November 30, 2022. At that time, Walker was in a runoff race against Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA).
“The Committee further concluded that during your discussion of the senatorial run-off election, you directly solicited campaign contributions on behalf of Mr. Walker’s campaign committee … five separate times,” the Committee said in a letter to Graham. “Your actions on November 30, 2022, represented a repeat violation of Senate standards of conduct.”
“On October 14, 2020, immediately following a Judiciary Committee hearing, you engaged in an unplanned media interview in the Dirksen Senate Office Building,” the letter continued. “In response to a reporter’s question regarding your reelection campaign fundraising, you directly solicited campaign contributions for your campaign committee. While the Committee concluded your conduct violated Senate standards of conduct, it considered several mitigating factors, and in accordance with the Committee’s Rules of Procedure, determined your conduct was ‘inadvertent, technical, or otherwise of a de minimis nature.’ On March 8, 2021, the Committee dismissed the complaint and notified you of the Committee’s findings and action by private letter.”
The Committee said that ethical standards that U.S. senators are held to are “a responsibility both broader than and distinct from criminal law.”
“The specific prohibition on campaign solicitation in federal buildings and the restrictions on the use of official resources for campaign activity have been consistent and clear throughout your years of Senate service, and the Committee is confident the Senate community understands this standard and its rationale,” the letter said. “Applying this standard to your conduct, the Committee finds that you did solicit federal campaign contributions and otherwise impermissibly conducted campaign activity in a federal building.”
The Committee said that Graham’s decision to solicit campaign funds in a federal building, despite already being warned, resulted in “harm to the public trust and confidence in the United States Senate.”
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“You are hereby admonished,” the letter concluded.