The Senate Ethics Committee has been asked to investigate Lindsey Graham over claims he pressured Georgia officials to throw out thousands of legal mail-in votes

  • The Senate Ethics Committee has been asked to investigate Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham over allegations of pressuring officials to disqualify thousands of legal votes in Georgia.
  • Three ethics experts, including a former Bush administration official, wrote to the six-person committee asking it to look at whether Graham's probing of Georgia's election count broke chamber rules.
  • Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger this week said Graham in a phone call directly asked whether he could throw out thousands of mail-in votes. 
  • Graham described Raffensperger's account of the call as "ridiculous." 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Three ethics experts, including two former government officials, have written to the Senate Ethics Committee requesting an investigation into claims that Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham asked Georgia's Secretary of State to disqualify thousands of legal mail-in votes.

CNN reported that Richard Painter, who served as President George W. Bush's chief ethic lawyer, former government ethics official Walter Shaub, and the University of Pennsylvania's Claire Finkelstein have asked the committee to look into Graham's recent phone call with Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

The want an investigation into whether he encouraged Raffensperger to "disenfranchise Georgia voters by not counting votes lawfully cast for the office of president."

Raffensperger this week said that Graham directly asked him if he could disqualify thousands of mail ballots for mismatched signatures in the battleground state of Georgia, which was key to President-elect Joe Biden's victory. It was the first time a Democratic presidential candidate had won in Georgia in nearly thirty years.

He told The Washington Post that Graham, a senior ally of Donald Trump, asked him whether thousands of ballots had been accepted despite having mismatched signatures because the election workers handling them hold bias towards Democrats.

Graham also asked if Raffensperger himself could throw out all the mail ballots cast in counties with higher than average rates of ballots with signature issues, Raffensperger said. As the Post pointed out, Raffensperger does not have the authority to do so.

Graham this week said claims he suggested disqualifying thousands of in-mail ballots were "ridiculous," and that he had asked Raffensperger to explain the signature verification process in Georgia. The state is one of around 30 states in the US that uses signature matching to verify the authenticity of mail ballots.

However, people who work for Raffensperger told the Wall Street Journal that they had listened in on the phone conversation between the pair and heard Graham bring up the possibility of entire counties' slates of mail ballots being thrown out for signature mismatch issues. 

Raffensperger told the WSJ that Graham in their phone call "just took it in a direction that I didn't expect it to go."

The trio has also requested that the six-person Senate Ethics Committee, chaired by Republican Sen. James Lankford, look at whether Graham "threatened anyone with a Senate investigation of the Georgia vote tally," according to CNN.

Speaking to CNN in Washington on Wednesday, Graham said "no, not at all" when asked whether he was concerned about a potential investigation.

"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 that 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 continues to claim, without evidence, that widespread voter fraud helped Biden win.

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