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Ethics experts ask Senate to investigate Graham's probe of mail-in voting

Ethics experts ask Senate to investigate Graham's probe of mail-in voting
© Greg Nash

A trio of ethics experts who have been outspoken critics of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race MORE called on the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate Sen. Lindsay Graham’s (R-S.C.) communications with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) regarding mail-in votes.

Former federal ethics watchdog Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubEthics experts ask Senate to investigate Graham's probe of mail-in voting Interior 'propaganda' video and tweets may violate ethics laws, experts say Louisiana House candidate fundraises off opponent's tweet about wife's 'premonition' dream MORE, George W. Bush-era ethics lawyer Richard Painter and Claire Finkelstein, the director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law, wrote a letter asking Senate Ethics Committee Chairman James LankfordJames Paul LankfordEthics experts ask Senate to investigate Graham's probe of mail-in voting The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - Pfizer unveils detailed analysis of COVID-19 vaccine & next steps GOP senators congratulate Harris on Senate floor MORE (R-Okla.) and ranking member Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDemocrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus Biden rolls out national security team Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks MORE (D-Del.) to investigate whether Graham “suggested that Secretary Raffensperger disenfranchise Georgia voters by not counting votes lawfully cast for the office of president.”

The letter says "your Committee should demand clarity as to whether Senator Graham has threatened anyone with a Senate investigation of the Georgia vote tally and/or taken steps to initiative such an investigation."

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Raffensperger said in an interview with The Washington Post on Monday that the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman had asked him if he had the authority to toss out ballots in counties with high rates of nonmatching signatures. Graham also allegedly questioned if poll workers had accepted ballots with nonmatching signatures due to political bias.

Graham, who says he has also spoken to officials in other states, has denied that that was the basis of his Friday conversation Raffensperger.

"What I'm trying to find out was how do you verify signatures for mail-in ballots in these states," he told reporters on Monday. "I thought it was a good conversation. I'm surprised to hear him characterize it that way." 

Asked why, as a senator from South Carolina, he’s talking to an elections official in Georgia, Graham said that "it affects the whole nation."

Georgia is one of several states where President Trump, who has refused to concede the election to President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Biden says staff has spoken with Fauci: 'He's been very, very helpful' MORE, has made baseless allegations of voter fraud.

In an interview with The Hill published Wednesday, Raffensperger said politicians are engaging in "emotional abuse" against voters with their unsubstantiated claims of fraud.