Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is under fire for what many people are calling “a crime in plain sight” after violating U.S. law barring members of Congress from soliciting donations while inside federal buildings.
Graham, who is in a tight race with Democratic opponent Jamie Harrison, made the solicitation while peaking to reporters following the third day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
“I don’t know how much it affected fundraising today, but if you want to help me close the gap, LindseyGraham.com. A little bit goes a long way,” Graham said while on camera.
“The bottom line is my opponent raised $57 million. Congratulations to him, that’s the most anybody’s ever raised in the history of the Senate,” Graham continued. “I raised $28 million, the most any Republican has ever raised. I think the contest in South Carolina has taken on sort of a national profile. I think in my case is that I stood up for Kavanaugh, and that made some people pretty upset on the left.”
In response to footage of Graham’s remarks posted on Twitter by Aída Chávez of The Intercept, observers pointed out that it is illegal for members of Congress to ask for donations “while in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties.”
“Senator Graham might need a lawyer,” attorney Marc Elias tweeted, pointing to 18 U.S. Code § 607.
The Intercept’s Ryan Grim noted that “because it’s a crime to solicit contributions inside a federal building,” members of Congress often “leave their offices and make fundraising calls from their cars (no, really).”
“Doing it on camera,” Grim added, “is next-level.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) agreed, tweeting: “This is a crime. Lindsey Graham committed a crime in plain sight.”
Watch Graham’s comments:
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) October 15, 2020
It’s illegal to solicit campaign contributions inside a federal building.
— aída chávez (@aidachavez) October 15, 2020
Senator Graham might need a lawyer: "It shall be unlawful for…Members of Congress, to solicit or receive a donation of money or other thing of value in connection with a Federal election, while in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties." 18 USC 607 https://t.co/raJEztmn66
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) October 15, 2020