Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) indicated that mysterious dark forces — rather than his own increasing unpopularity — are responsible for surging campaign contributions to his Democratic rival, Jaime Harrison. He called for a legislative review of the kind of small-dollar donations that are boosting Harrison.
“Where’s all this money coming from?” Graham asked in an interview Wednesday with The Hill. “Some of these shadowy figures out there running ads, is there any foreign influence afoot?”
Graham conceded last month that, in fact, he’s getting “killed” by Harrison’s fundraising because his foes “hate my guts.” He pleaded for contributions on Fox News.
Harrison raised a record of $57 million, mostly in small, individual contributions, in the third quarter of the year, while Graham raised $28 million. Recent polls give Harrison a slight lead over the three-term incumbent.
“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,” the senator told The Hill.
Graham called for an investigation into the process. “When this election is over with, I hope there will be a sitting down and finding out, ‘OK, how do we control this?’” Graham said. “It just seems to be an endless spiral.”
Graham singled out ActBlue, a nonprofit technology company that provides online fundraising software to help Democratic candidates collect small donations. He complained that the operation doesn’t report individual donors who contribute less than $200 because it’s not required by campaign finance regulations.
An ActBlue representative told The Hill that the organization reports even its smallest donations to the Federal Election Commission, yet the names and addresses of donors giving less than $200 had not been reported. Its October filing will provide the names, hometowns, and employers of donors who contributed more than $1, according to ActBlue.
Graham indicated that there’s a team of lawmakers interested in reviewing campaign finance practices with the aim of possibly creating new regulations.
Most voter concerns aren’t focused on small donors but on massive campaign contributions to candidates by lobbyists and wealthy individuals. Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, recently gave $75 million to a super PAC for President Donald Trump’s reelection.
Harrison warned voters in a tweet that Graham’s “billionaire donors” will still try to “save him.”
Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is reluctant to go after donors giving modest contributions.
“Let me give a shout-out to the Democrats. The lion’s share of the money that’s flooding into campaigns is coming from small donors,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday, adding. “I don’t think any kind of campaign finance reform designed at producing fewer people interested is a good idea,” he said.