Justice Department defends South Carolina Republican from subpoenas for campaign contributions

Justice Thomas Briefly Shields Graham From Georgia Elections Inquiry Subpoena

U.S. Justice Department official to protect the South Carolinian from the state investigation of his campaign contributions. David Savage was responding to subpoenas for campaign funds in the case surrounding the Republican candidate in a special U.S. House election in Georgia.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Justice Department is defending South Carolina’s Republican U.S. Senate candidate, Senator Lindsey Graham, from being subpoenaed for his campaign contributions in a Georgia special election after Sen. Bill Frist, his main opponent, asked that he be compelled to turn over the records.

The U.S. Department of Justice issued a brief in which officials said they would not be bound by a subpoena ordering Mr. Graham, a possible 2006 Republican Senate candidate for South Carolina, to turn over records from his campaign for a special election for the state Senate seat left vacant by the resignation of Robert Byrd. The U.S. Senate seat in Georgia is held by Democratic incumbent Johnny Isakson.

The decision by the Justice Department to shield Mr. Graham was described by an official in the department as being “a significant and very clear attempt to protect Senator Graham from the Georgia investigation.”

The Justice Department’s brief made clear its position that a subpoena would bind Mr. Graham and put his political future at risk.

The state of Georgia’s investigation focuses on the campaign funding and contributions that Mr. Graham received in his campaign for the U.S. House, but also is examining donations he made to Republican U.S. Senate candidate John McCain’s Senate campaign, and possibly to other statewide and federal Republican candidates.

Mr. Graham and Mr. Isakson are in a heated presidential primary race for the GOP nomination.

According to the Georgia secretary of state’s database, Mr. Graham received more than $300,000 in contributions from Georgia donors. Mr. Isakson, a Democrat, recorded more than $1 million in contributions that he received from donors in Georgia.

Mr. Graham has denied any wrongdoing and said he did not have campaign contributions from out-of-state sources.

In the case of the Georgia special U.S. House election, a subpoena issued in February by

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