Sen. Ted Cruz illegally promoted his book with campaign funds, watchdog alleges in ethics complaints

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, violated campaign finance guidelines through the use of donor funds to advertise his book, a watchdog alleged Wednesday in two ethics complaints.

The Campaign Legal Center, or CLC, accused Cruz’s campaign committee of spending as much as $18,000 in late 2020 on Facebook ads that “exclusively” urged viewers to order copies of the senator’s book. Those advertisements included hyperlinks to purchase the book from third-party on-line booksellers, the nonprofit group that seeks transparency in authorities stated.

“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,” stated Brendan Fischer, CLC director of federal reform, in a press launch asserting the complaints.

Cruz’s book deal with Regnery Publishing netted him a $400,000 advance and a 15% royalty on web gross sales of hardcover copies of the book, the CLC stated, citing the senator’s monetary disclosure report.

The CLC filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, or FEC, towards Cruz’s campaign committee. The watchdog additionally sent a letter to the Senate Ethics Committee requesting an investigation into whether or not Cruz broke federal regulation and the chamber’s ethics guidelines.

FEC spokesman Christian Hilland advised CNBC that the fee doesn’t touch upon pending litigation. Outreach to the Senate Ethics Committee was not instantly returned. Spokespeople for Cruz didn’t instantly present remark.

The Senate’s guidelines are “crystal clear about all members, both current and former, being prohibited from converting federal campaign funds to personal use,” Delaney Marsco, CLC’s senior authorized counsel for ethics, stated in the press launch.

“Voters must be able to trust that when they are donating to political campaigns, they are doing so to help their favored candidate win or retain their office, not financing their personal endeavors,” Marsco stated.

The CLC stated in its complaints that Cruz may have doubtlessly marketed or bought his book utilizing campaign funds “without running afoul of the law.” He may have included a small quantity of data on an current campaign web site, the CLC stated, or his campaign may have purchased copies of the book straight from the writer for use as presents to supporters, if the writer withheld royalties on these copies.

“But Senator Cruz did not do either of these things,” the CLC stated in its letter to the Senate ethics panel. “Instead, Senator Cruz used campaign funds for online ads that exclusively promoted his book, and directed supporters to purchase it from third-party booksellers.”

The book, “One Vote Away: How A Single Supreme Court Seat Can Change History,” was launched in September.

That month, Cruz’s Facebook web page began working advertisements selling the book and inspiring supporters to buy it — utilizing language resembling “order your copy today” and “buy a copy, right now” — the FEC criticism alleged.

The advertisements, which linked to on-line booksellers, ran between Sept. 24 and Oct. 5, the CLC stated, citing Facebook’s political advert archive. They all included the disclaimer, “Paid for by Ted Cruz for Senate,” in response to the CLC.

Fischer famous in the press launch that “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.”

The letter to the Senate Ethics Committee argued that “when elected officials use campaign contributions to advance their personal bottom lines, they compromise the integrity of the political process and undermine the public’s trust that their political contributions are being used legally—for campaign purposes or in connection with the officeholder’s duties, not to line the officeholder’s pockets.”

“Senator Cruz has violated core principles of accountable government by using campaign funds to promote the sale of his book,” the CLC’s letter stated. “As such, the Ethics Committee should reassure the public that the Senate enforces its well-established rules and laws that guard against corruption by conducting a swift investigation to identify and hold Senator Cruz accountable for any ethics violations.”

The CLC final week filed a separate FEC criticism, accusing Georgia’s Republican Party of illegally accepting in-kind contributions from one other election-related nonprofit known as True the Vote.

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