Lindsey Graham Accused of Illegally Soliciting Donations in Federal Building

Senator Lindsey Graham has been accused of illegally soliciting donations to his campaign after a statement to the press following Tuesday's confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

The South Carolina senator, who is a Republican and staunch ally of President Donald Trump, made a fresh plea for donations at the Capitol as he fights a close race with Democrat Jaime Harrison.

His critics were quick to point out that soliciting campaign donations on federal property is illegal. Graham has called for supporters to give to his re-election effort during previous media appearances.

"I think people in South Carolina are excited about Judge Barrett," Graham told reporters.

"I don't know how much it affected fundraising today, but if you want to help me close the gap [...] I think the contest in South Carolina has taken on sort of a national profile."

Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell took to Twitter on Tuesday to accuse Graham of committing a crime.

"This is a crime @LindseyGrahamSC committed a crime in plain sight," Swalwell wrote.

Many social media users also said Graham had broken the law and pointed to 18 U.S. Code § 607, which says, in part : "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."

"A person who violates this section shall be fined not more than $5,000, imprisoned not more than three years, or both," the law states.

The Senate Ethics Office also states "Senate Members and staff may not receive or solicit campaign contributions in any federal building" and cites 18 U.S. Code § 607 on its website under "General Prohibitions."

Graham has made several fundraising appeals during appearances on Fox News. Following his comments to reporters on Tuesday, he was a guest of the network's Sean Hannity and again asked for donations.

Graham raised $28 million from July through September but Harrison brought in $58 million over the same period - the most raised by any Senate candidate in U.S. history. The race in South Carolina has become unexpectedly competitive.

"I don't know what's going on out there, but I can tell you there's a lot of money being raised in this campaign," Graham said during the Barrett hearing on Tuesday. "I'd like to know where the hell some of it's coming from."

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) attends a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump and Republican members of Congress in the Roosevelt Room of the White House December 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump said the group would discuss tax reform and trade policies during the meeting. Graham is in a close race with Democrat Jaime Harrison. Win McNamee/Getty Images