Ted Cruz Illegally Used Campaign Funds To Promote His Book, Watchdog Says

Ted Cruz speaking in the Senate.
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US Politics

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is the focus of legal and ethical investigations over his use of campaign funds to help promote his new book, One Vote Away: How A Single Supreme Court Seat Can Change History.

As reported by Raw Story, the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed two complaints against Cruz on Tuesday  — one with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the other with the Senate Ethics Committee  — for profiting off of the purported scheme.

"Cruz receives royalties on book sales, so using campaign funds to promote the book violates the ban on using campaign money for personal gain," the group claimed.

In particular, Cruz's campaign spent $18,000 on Facebook ads for the book, from which he receives 15 percent royalties on all hardcover sales.

Cruz Is Accused Of Breaking The Law With His Scheme

According to CLC's Brendan Fischer, Cruz broke the law with his scheme to fund his book with campaign funds.

"Because Cruz receives royalties from book sales, his campaign crossed a legal line by spending donor funds on Facebook ads promoting sales of that book," he said.

Fischer also underlined that the extent of Cruz's operation is still a mystery that requires further investigation.

"We don't know how extensive these violations might be because any similar ads that Cruz may have run on platforms other than Facebook or Google are not publicly available."

Cruz Might Have Been Able To Avoid Breaking The Law

Ted Cruz speaks in the Senate.
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CLC suggested that Cruz could have promoted his book using campaign funds without breaking the law, CNBC reported.

According to the watchdog, Cruz could have purchased the books directly from the publisher and gifted them to supporters or included product information on an existing campaign website.

“Instead, Senator Cruz used campaign funds for online ads that exclusively promoted his book, and directed supporters to purchase it from third-party booksellers.”

Delaney Marsco, CLC’s senior legal counsel for ethics, stressed that the Senate's rules are clear about its prohibition on using campaign funds for personal use.

Cruz's Campaign Spending Came Under Scrutiny Last Month

The Daily Beast reported last month that Cruz used campaign funds to promote his book.

The publication spotlighted that Cruz's Senate campaign used his Facebook candidate page to post 17 paid ads in September and October of 2020. The videos center around Cruz's promotion of the book, which he urged supporters to purchase from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Books-A-Million.

The outlet noted that the FEC prohibits candidates from using funds for personal profit. And while candidates often offer the choice of exchanging books for donations, experts suggest that Cruz's recent use of funds is likely illegal.

The Subject Is Legally Murky

Despite the accusations, the subject occupies a legally murky space of campaign law.

Jenna Grande, press secretary for government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, suggested that it appears Cruz did "exactly what you’re not supposed to do" with his decision to tie campaign funds to his book. However, she also acknowledged that the law is "not entirely clear" on the issue.

Nevertheless, Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform at the watchdog group Campaign Legal Center argued that Cruz's book promotion appears to have violated FEC law.