- The Senate Ethics Committee has been asked to investigate allegations that Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham pressured an official in Georgia to disqualify thousands of legal ballots.
- Three ethics experts, including a former Bush administration official, asked the six-person committee to look at whether what Graham asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger about vote counting broke chamber rules.
- Raffensperger this week said Graham directly asked whether he could throw out certain mail-in votes.
- Graham described Raffensperger’s account of the call as “ridiculous.”
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Three ethics experts, including two former government officials, wrote to the Senate Ethics Committee requesting an investigation into claims that Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to disqualify thousands of legal mail-in ballots.
Richard Painter, who was President George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer, Walter Shaub, a former government ethics official, and Claire Finkelstein of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law asked the committee to look into whether Graham encouraged Raffensperger to “disenfranchise Georgia voters by not counting votes lawfully cast for the office of president,” CNN reported on Wednesday.
Raffensperger this week said Graham directly asked him on a phone call whether he could disqualify thousands of mail ballots over mismatched signatures in Georgia, a battleground state that President-elect Joe Biden won. It was the first time a Democratic presidential candidate had won in Georgia in nearly 30 years.
Raffensperger told The Washington Post that Graham, an ally of President Donald Trump, asked whether election workers could have accepted ballots with mismatched signatures because they were biased toward Democrats and whether Raffensperger could throw out all mail ballots cast in counties with higher rates of signature issues. As The Post pointed out, Raffensperger does not have the authority to do so.
Graham said that claims that he suggested disqualifying mail-in ballots were “ridiculous” and that he had asked Raffensperger to explain the signature-verification process in Georgia. The state is one of about 30 that use signature matching to verify the authenticity of mail ballots.
Raffensperger told The Wall Street Journal that Graham took the call “in a direction that I didn’t expect it to go.”
The three ethics experts also requested that the six-person Senate Ethics Committee look at whether Graham “threatened anyone with a Senate investigation of the Georgia vote tally,” according to CNN.
When CNN asked Graham on Wednesday whether he was concerned about an investigation, Graham said, “No, not at all.”
“I get accused of everything. I’m just going to keep being me,” he said. “I called up the secretary of state to find out how you verify a signature and what database you use because I think it’s important that if we’re going to vote by mail we get it right.”
Earlier this month, Graham said the Senate Judiciary Committee that he chairs would investigate “all credible allegations of voting irregularities and misconduct” in the presidential election. The Trump campaign has filed several lawsuits in key states, and Trump continues to claim, without evidence, that widespread voter fraud helped Biden win.