Lindsey Graham begs for campaign cash while at US Capitol — which is illegal

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Graham solicited campaign contributions after the third day of Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Wednesday appeared to violate a law that bans people from soliciting campaign contributions from federal office buildings when he asked for people to donate to his reelection bid upon exiting the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

"I think people in South Carolina are excited about Judge 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, directly asking for campaign contributions from the Capitol.

"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. I raised $28 million the most any Republican's ever raised. I think the contest in South Carolina has taken on sort of a national profile," Graham said.

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Graham appeared to be in violation of 18 U.S. Code 607, which explicitly prohibits lawmakers from raising money on Capitol Hill.

According to the text of the law:

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.

Because of this law, both the Democratic and Republican parties have buildings nearby the Capitol where lawmakers can go on breaks to raise money. The practice is known in campaign lingo as "call time" — and it's become an essential activity for lawmakers following the 2010 Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, which allowed unlimited money to flow into super PACs to fund attack ads.

Graham, however, asked for campaign contributions while standing in the Capitol, where Barrett's hearing was held.

Election lawyers and Democratic lawmakers slammed Graham for appearing to violate the law.

"This is a crime," Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) tweeted. "@LindseyGrahamSC committed a crime in plain sight."

"Senator Graham might need a lawyer," Marc Elias, an elections lawyer, tweeted, adding the text of 18 U.S. Code 607.

Graham faces his toughest reelection campaign to date against Democrat Jaime Harrison — who has set fundraising records in his bid to unseat Graham.

Harrison's massive fundraising has left Graham pleading for money on Fox News, and now from the Capitol.

Recent public polling shows the race between the two men tied, with the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, rating the race a "toss up."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.