COLUMBIA, S.C. — U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has continued to rake in campaign cash in the closing days of his bid for a fourth term, raising about $1 million a day for the first two weeks of October.
Early Friday, Graham’s campaign said it had raised nearly $15 million in the first half of the month. That rate outpaces Graham’s third-quarter haul of $28 million, which his campaign said represented the largest amount ever raised by any Republican Senate candidate in a single quarter, in any state.
The fundraising period ran from Oct. 1 through Oct. 14, encompassing three days of the confirmation hearings of Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s third nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Graham played a prominent role in the televised process, introducing members as they spoke and able to opine on his own thoughts regarding her nomination and the legal process in general.
Graham’s comments on the third day of those hearings — and the last day of the fundraising period in question — prompted an ethics complaint against him from South Carolina Democrats, who claimed Graham had broken Senate ethics rules by making a campaign fundraising appeal while speaking with reporters on Capitol Hill.
Asked by reporters then about fundraising in his expensive reelection contest with Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison, and how the televised proceedings might be affecting that race, Graham said, “I don’t know how much it affected fundraising today, but if you want to help me close the gap — LindseyGraham.com — a little bit goes a long way.”
Graham has said he did not believe he had broken any ethics rules.
Fundraising by both candidates has been massive, as Democratic Senate challengers continue to pull in eye-popping cash against Republican incumbents. In the third quarter of this year, Harrison raised $57 million, the most ever brought in by a Senate candidate in a quarterly fundraising period, in any state.
On Thursday, his campaign told The Associated Press that all of the money had already been spent, with more than $40 million going to advertising alone, saying the money essentially had to be spent as quickly as it came in, in order to raise his profile to a level competitive with that of Graham.
Harrison’s campaign has not released any figures for its own October fundraising.
Some polling has shown a tied race, while in other surveys, either Graham or Harrison has a slight lead. In addition to the candidates’ spending, third-party groups are also pouring money into the race, amounting to wall-to-wall digital and television advertising. Republicans, including the Senate Leadership Fund, have reserved $11 million in ad time in the coming week.
T.W. Arrighi, spokesman for Graham’s campaign, said the senator “continues to be deeply honored by the overwhelming support from grassroots donors across the state.” He also decried Harrison for spending millions from out-of-state donors, “drowning the state in attack ads.”
According to public records, 92% of Harrison’s overall contributions have come from donors outside South Carolina. Graham’s out-of-state donors represent about 86% of his contributions.
Due to a software glitch, Graham’s campaign said only $9 million of the $15 million contributions appeared in online records, with more than $5.7 million – representing more than 100,000 online contributions – missing.
The campaign said it had just over $13 million cash on hand, although the software error incorrectly listed the amount as around $7.3 million.
According to the campaign, the Federal Election Commission advised filing the report and following up with an amendment later, noting that other campaigns had experienced similar software troubles in the past.