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Katherine Tully-McManus

Graham admonished by Senate Ethics

The admonition is centered on an interview with Fox News in the Russell rotunda on November 30, 2022, in which Sen. Lindsey Graham directly solicited campaign contributions on behalf of Herschel Walker. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Senate Ethics Committee has formally admonished Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) over his solicitation of campaign contributions for Herschel Walker as he was headed to a runoff election for Senate in Georgia.

In a letter released on Thursday, the Ethics panel declared that the “committee finds that you did solicit federal campaign contributions and otherwise impermissibly conducted campaign activity in a federal building.”

The letter is signed by both Chair Chris Coons (D-Del.) and ranking member Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who lead the evenly divided panel with three Democrats and three Republicans.

The admonition is centered on a nine-minute interview with Fox News in the Russell rotunda on November 30, 2022, in which Graham directly solicited campaign contributions on behalf of Walker, mentioning his campaign website five separate times.

“Go to team If you can give five or ten bucks, it will help him close the gap,” referring to Walker, the GOP candidate who eventually lost to Democrat Raphael Warnock in Georgia’s December 6th Senate run-off.

"It was a mistake. I take responsibility. I will try to do better in the future" Graham said in a statement to POLITICO on Thursday evening.

Following the November interview, Graham promptly contacted Coons and Lankford to express regrets that he had not fully considered the impacts of the interview being conducted on federal property.

The public action against Graham is based on it being a repeat offense. The letter reveals that on October 14, 2020, Graham directly solicited campaign contributions for his own campaign committee during an interview in a Dirksen hallway following a Judiciary Committee hearing.

At the time, the Senate Ethics panel considered it a violation but given “several mitigating factors” determined the infraction “inadvertent, technical, or otherwise of a de minimis nature” and dismissed it with a private letter to Graham.

The last public letter of admonition issued by the panel was against Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.) over his relationship with a close friend and donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen in 2018. It followed a mistrial in a federal corruption case against the New Jersey Democrat. Before that, the last senator to receive a formal admonishment from the panel was former GOP Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma in 2012.

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