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Incumbent US Senator for Georgia Republican Kelly Loeffler. (Jessica McGowan / Getty Images)

Georgia Republican Kelly Loeffler is the richest member of the United States Senate, but that hasn’t stopped the appointed senator from making an illegal pitch for money to fund her embattled bid for a full term in the chamber.

Loeffler is locked in a January 5 runoff race with the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat who finished ahead of her in the initial voting on November 3. She’s mounting a desperate campaign that is filling the Atlanta airwaves with an onslaught of negative ads and, though the multimillionaire could afford to buy them herself, Loeffler’s instead appealing for money from across the country to pay for what could turn out to be the most expensive Senate campaign in history.

That’s what the senator did November 18, when she appeared on a Fox News program from the Russell Senate Office Building Rotunda. Loeffler wasn’t talking about Senate business that day. She was talking politics, and, after attacking Warnock repeatedly, the senator announced, “Well look, we know that hundreds of millions of dark, liberal money is pouring into our state. That’s why it’s so important that everyone across the country get involved. They can visit KellyforSenate.com to chip in five or 10 bucks, and get involved, volunteer.”

The appeal was a direct request for campaign money, made inside a federal building. That’s illegal. The section of the Code of Laws of the United States of America dealing with the solicitation of campaign funds inside federal buildings, 18 USC 607,  plainly states:

It shall be unlawful for an individual who is an officer or employee of the Federal Government, including the President, Vice President, and Members of Congress, to solicit or receive a donation of money or other thing of value in connection with a Federal, State, or local election, while in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties by an officer or employee of the United States, from any person.

The code outlines tough penalties for wrongdoers: “A person who violates this section shall be fined not more than $5,000, imprisoned not more than 3 years, or both.”

Loeffler’s appeal was also in conflict with US Senate ethics rules, which state clearly that “Senate Members and staff may not receive or solicit campaign contributions in any federal building.”

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