Sen. Kelly Loeffler calls ethics complaints against her a 'frivolous' distraction

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The Republican senator from Georgia asked for campaign contributions during an interview in the U.S. Capitol building.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) was hit with multiple ethics complaints on Thursday after she solicited campaign contributions while located in the Capitol building the day before — a violation of federal law. Her campaign dismissed the allegations as merely a "frivolous" distraction.

"We're only two weeks into this race and the Democrats are already so desperate to try to distract from Raphael Warnock's [record] that they're spending their time filing frivolous complaints," a Loeffler campaign spokesperson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Loeffler was appointed to a vacant Senate seat by Georgia's governor last December. She finished second in the November special election for the remaining two years of the term but, because no candidate got a majority, will face off against Warnock, a Democrat, in a runoff on Jan. 5.

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Federal law clearly states:

It shall be unlawful for an individual who is an officer or employee of the Federal Government, including the President, Vice President, and Members of Congress, to solicit or receive a donation of money or other thing of value in connection with a Federal, State, or local election, while in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties by an officer or employee of the United States, from any person.

But that did not stop Loeffler from begging for donations during an interview with Fox News conducted as she stood inside the Capitol.

"We know that hundreds of millions of dark liberal money is pouring into our state," one of the Senate's richest members complained. "That's why it's so important that everyone across the country get involved. They can visit KellyForSenate.com to chip in five or 10 bucks."

The Democratic Party of Georgia requested that the Justice Department investigate and filed a formal complaint on Thursday addressed to Sen. James Lankford and Sen. Christopher Coons, the chair and vice chair respectively of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, noting: "Using the trappings of her office to garner financial support for her own campaign is a clear violation of federal laws and the ethics rules of the U.S. Senate."

Their complaint reminded the members that the committee's own guidance clearly states: "Senate Members and staff may not receive or solicit campaign contributions in any federal building."

The American Democracy Legal Fund, a nonprofit government ethics group, filed a separate complaint on Thursday in which it requested "an immediate investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics into unethical and illegal conduct on the part of United States Senator Kelly Loeffler."

The Loeffler campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story. But back in April, Stephen Lawson, the campaign's communications director who is now playing down Loeffler's alleged violation, expressed outrage about Loeffler's Republican challenger for the Senate seat, Rep. Doug Collins, breaking ethics rules, writing: "Is anyone surprised that Doug Collins is breaking ethics rules to fund his ego-driven campaign? He will literally do and say anything to advance his career in politics and protect his taxpayer funded salary. Sad – but completely expected from a self-entitled career politician like D.C. Doug."

The Warnock campaign issued a statement about the ethics complaint against Loeffler on Thursday: "Senator Loeffler sees no problem with putting her own interests in front of the needs of Georgians and her shameless violation of federal law and Senate ethics rules is another unfortunate example of how she's only looking out for herself — just like when she traded stocks after receiving a confidential Senate briefing. I'm in this race to expand access for quality health care and fight for working families, while Kelly Loeffler is in this race for a return on her investment."

Last month, ethics complaints were filed against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) after he too solicited campaign donations during an interview from the Capitol.

Republicans had previously seemed to object to soliciting campaign cash from within federal buildings. After Vice President Al Gore admitted in 1997 to making fundraising calls from the White House, former Rep. Jack Kemp, who ran for vice president on the Republican ticket with Sen. Bob Dole in 1996, demanded a special prosecutor and a congressional investigation into the "corruption of political fund raising in America."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.