Kelly Loeffler Accused of Violating Senate Ethics Rules With Fundraising Appeal in Federal Building

Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) has been accused of violating Senate ethics rules by soliciting donations in the U.S. Capitol building. She made the appeal for campaign contributions on Fox News.

Loeffler spoke to the network from the Capitol with its pillars behind her and said that "hundreds of millions of dark, liberal money is pouring into our state" for the January 5 Senate runoffs in Georgia.

"That's why it's so important that everyone across the country get involved," Loeffler said. "They can visit to chip in 5 or 10 bucks, and get involved, volunteer."

Loeffler was quickly accused of violating Senate ethics rules, which state: "Senate members and staff may not receive or solicit campaign contributions in any federal building."

The rules point to 18 U.S. Code Section 607, which makes it illegal for "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."

The law prescribes a fine of "not more than $5,000," a jail term of "not more than three years, or both" for violations.

Watch @SenatorLoeffler break basic Senate ethics rules, solicit donations for her campaign, and urge people to visit her campaign website from a federal office building. #gasen #gapol

— Helen Kalla (@helen_kalla) November 18, 2020

Loeffler will face Rev. Raphael Warnock in one of two runoff elections in Georgia that will determine control of the Senate. The other race pits Republican Senator David Perdue against Jon Ossoff. The campaigns are expected to be among the most expensive in history.

Alex Floyd, a spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Georgia, told the HuffPost that Loeffler's appeal for donations was "a clear ethics violation."

"It's been months since Senator Loeffler has taken action to help Georgians impacted by the pandemic," Floyd said. "And instead of using her time in Washington to fight for coronavirus relief, she's doing what she thinks is best for her political campaign."

Newsweek has contacted Loeffler's campaign for comment.

This is the second time in two months that a Republican senator has been accused of unethically seeking donations on federal property. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made a similar appeal on Fox News on October 14 during his unexpectedly competitive race against Democrat Jaime Harrison.

A spokesperson for Graham said any potential ethics violation was "unintentional and does not represent a pattern of behavior." The senator has said he will donate $1 million from his campaign to the Republican candidates in Georgia.

Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Kelly Loeffler
Kelly Loeffler speaks to supporters at a rally on November 11, 2020, in Marietta, Georgia. She has been accused of violating Senate ethics rules with a fundraising appeal. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images