Lindsey Graham Admonished By Senate Ethics Committee

The Senate Ethics Committee admonished Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday for soliciting campaign contributions for a fellow GOP candidate while at the U.S. Capitol.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), chair of the ethics committee, and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), the vice chair, wrote a letter to Graham on Thursday saying an investigation found their colleague had “directly solicited” campaign contributions for Herschel Walker, who lost his bid for one of Georgia’s Senate seats last year. Graham did so at least five times during a Nov. 30, 2022, appearance on Fox News while standing in the Russell Senate Office Building.

“The committee is charged with upholding the ethical standards of the U.S. Senate, a responsibility both broader than and distinct from criminal law,” the pair wrote. “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.”

Graham admitted to the behavior in a statement later in the day, and Coons and Lankford noted he self-reported his actions to the panel.

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

The admonishment does not carry any penalty.

The committee did add that Graham also solicited donations for himself in October 2020 during an unplanned interview in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, saying the episode also violated chamber rules. That incident was dismissed by the panel.

A public admonishment from the ethics panel is rare. The panel last issued a public letter of admonition in 2018 against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and before that hadn’t done so since issuing one to then-Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) in 2012.