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Sen. Lindsey Graham ‘admonished’ by Senate Ethics Committee for soliciting funds in Capitol

<i>Ting Shen/Pool/Getty Images</i><br/>On March 23
Getty Images
Ting Shen/Pool/Getty Images
On March 23

By Manu Raju and Jack Forrest, CNN

The Senate Ethics Committee reprimanded Sen. Lindsey Graham Thursday for soliciting campaign contributions five times during a media interview in a Capitol office building in violation of Senate rules.

The bipartisan committee sent a public letter admonishing the South Carolina Republican for soliciting donations to Herschel Walker‘s campaign in the Russell Senate office building during a November 30, 2022, interview with Fox News. It is against Senate rules to solicit campaign donations in federal buildings.

“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. Your actions failed to uphold that standard, resulting in harm to the public trust and confidence in the United States Senate,” Chair Chris Coons, a Democrat, and Vice Chair James Lankford, a Republican, wrote in the letter.

“You are hereby admonished.”

An admonishment by the panel amounts to little more than a slap on the wrist. But the secretive committee exists to police and punish members who break the rules, which can include a public rebuke like the one Graham received on Thursday.

In a statement, Graham said that “it was a mistake.”

“I take responsibility. I will try to do better in the future,” he said.

A Graham aide said the senator had completed almost a dozen similar interviews in the prior weeks “on the same matter from Washington, South Carolina, and Georgia.”

The aide said Graham “simply did not remain sufficiently cognizant of the location from which this particular interview was being conducted. All previous interviews had been conducted ‘off-site’ and not on federal property.”

Graham contacted the two leaders of the Senate Ethics Committee after the interview to notify them of what occurred and to express regrets, the aide noted. The letter also acknowledged that Graham self-reported the violation.

The public admonishment came after the senator similarly violated Senate standards in October 2020, the letter noted. While Graham solicited funds for his own campaign during a media interview in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, the Ethics Committee found his behavior at the time to be “inadvertent, technical, or otherwise of a de minimis nature.”

Republican senators, including Graham, in 2022 united behind Walker’s high-stakes race to unseat Georgia’s Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock to help decide the balance of the Senate. Walker fell short in a December runoff, cementing the Democrats’ 51-49 majority.

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