U.S. Sen. Graham admonished by chamber's ethics panel for campaign-related violation

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Walker rallies with supporters at a campaign stop, in Kennesaw
U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) campaigns for Georgia Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Herschel Walker at a rally, on the eve of the election in Kennesaw, Georgia, U.S. November 7, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON, March 23 (Reuters) - A bipartisan congressional ethics panel admonished Senator Lindsey Graham on Thursday, saying the South Carolina Republican violated rules by soliciting campaign donations in a federal building last year for Senate candidate Herschel Walker.

Walker, a former NFL football player, was former President Donald Trump's handpicked Senate Republican candidate for Georgia in 2022. He lost a December runoff election to Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock.

The Senate Ethics Committee said in a letter that Graham solicited campaign contributions for Walker five times during a media interview in the Senate Russell Office Building on Nov. 30, 2022. The panel said his conduct was contrary to Senate standards of conduct.

Graham's office did not immediately respond to a Reuters query seeking comment.

"You are admonished," the committee told Graham in the letter.

"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," the committee said.

It was the Senate Ethics Committee's first letter of admonition since 2018, when the panel admonished Democratic Senator Robert Menendez for accepting impermissible gifts over a six-year period.

Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Chris Coons, a Democrat, and the panel's top Republican, James Lankford, said Graham's actions represented a repeat offense. In October 2020, the lawmaker solicited contributions to his own campaign during a media interview in a different Senate office building.

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Leslie Adler

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