Lindsey Graham Just ‘Committed a Crime in Plain Sight’


Senate Judiciary chairman Lindsey Graham during hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett. (Susan Walsh / AFP via Getty Images)

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is a desperate man. So desperate that he broke the law on Wednesday by explicitly soliciting campaign donations in the halls of a federal building.

After he chaired Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the Republican senator stepped into the hallway of the Hart Senate Office Building and made a pitch for online campaign donations. Representative Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat who is a former prosecutor, immediately noted federal laws barring such activities and declared, “This is a crime. (Lindsey Graham) committed a crime in plain sight.”

Graham’s pitch communicated just how scared he is by the prospect that he might lose the Senate seat he has treated as a personal sinecure since he replaced former segregationist presidential candidate Strom Thurmond in 2002. After coasting through election after election, Graham now faces the very real prospect that he could be beaten by former South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison. The Democrat, who has been tied with the Republican incumbent in recent polls, pulled narrowly ahead Thursday—47 percent to 46 percent—in a new Data for Progress survey. And The Cook Political Report recently shifted its rating for a contest Graham had been expected to win with ease to “toss-up.”

But the poll numbers are not the ones freaking out Graham. It’s the fundraising numbers. Harrison announced this week that he had taken in an eye-popping $57 million in donations during the third quarter of 2020, as compared with Graham’s $28 million.

Graham is obsessing about the money race. Last month, in an appearance with Sean Hannity on Fox News, he made an explicit appeal for donations, warning, “I’m getting overwhelmed. Help me. They’re killing me money wise. Help me.” During Tuesday’s session of the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Graham, the committee’s chair, made the unusual move of mentioning his reelection contest several times and, at one point, mused about the fundraising numbers. “I’d like to know where the hell it’s coming from,” he said, apparently in reference to Harrison’s haul.

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