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Ethics panel admonishes Graham for soliciting campaign donations during interview in Senate building

Graham asked for contributions on behalf of GOP candidate Herschel Walker during a Fox News interview in a Senate office building.
Image: Lindsey Graham
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., listens at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in 2021.Stefani Reynolds / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

The Senate Ethics Committee said Thursday that Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., violated Senate rules during a Fox News appearance last year when he requested donations for Hershel Walker’s Senate campaign in Georgia.

In a letter publicly released by the panel, Democratic Chair Chris Coons of Delaware and GOP Vice Chair James Lankford of Oklahoma said Graham violated Senate rules during the Nov. 30 interview when he solicited funds in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office building. It is against Senate rules to seek campaign donations in a federal building.

The committee said that during the roughly nine-minute interview, more than four minutes were devoted to a discussion of the 2022 run-off in Georgia between Walker and Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, with Graham soliciting campaign contributions "five separate times."

In its letter, the ethics panel issued an “admonishment” but opted not to sanction Graham.

“The public must feel confident that Members use public resources only for official actions in the best interests of the United States, not for partisan political activity,” they wrote. “Your actions failed to uphold that standard, resulting in harm to the public trust and confidence in the United States Senate. You are hereby admonished.”

Graham responded in a statement: “It was a mistake. I take responsibility. I will try to do better in the future.”

The panel also said Graham was a repeat offender, noting that he had asked for donations in an impromptu media interview in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in October 2020.

"In response to a reporter's question regarding your reelection campaign fundraising, you directly solicited campaign contributions for your campaign committee," Coons and Lankford wrote.

Coons and Lankford said they had considered "several mitigating factors" in the 2020 complaint and determined that Graham's conduct was “inadvertent, technical, or otherwise of a de minimis nature." They said they dismissed that complaint and informed him of their findings privately.