On Wednesday, two government watchdogs accused Sen, Ted Cruz, of violating campaign finance rules by using donor funds to promote his book.
The Campaign Legal Center, or CLC, has accused Cruz’s campaign committee of spending up to $18,000 in late 2020 on Facebook advertisements. Those ads urged viewers to buy copies of Cruz’s book. The ads also included links to buy his book from third-party online booksellers.
“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,” said Brendan Fischer, CLC director of federal reform.
However. Chris Gober, an attorney for Cruz’s campaign committee, stated late on Wednesday that Cruz’s campaign “has closely followed Federal Election Commission laws and guidelines when promoting his book.”
Cruz “has not received any royalties whatsoever for these book sales,” Gober said in the statement.
Fischer questioned that response. “There seems to be no legitimate way for Cruz to know how many books were purchased as a result of these Facebook ad and therefore it’s impossible to say that Cruz is not receiving royalties on the books sold as a result of the ads,” Fischer stated questioning Gober’s response.
Cruz received a $400,000 advance from Regnery Publishing and a 15% royalty on net sales of hardcover copies, the CLC’s press release stated.
The CLC has officially filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Cruz’s campaign committee. The watchdog sent a letter to the Senate Ethics Committee requesting an investigation into whether Cruz broke federal law and the chamber’s ethics rules.
Christian Hilland, a spokesperson stated he could not comment because the commission does not comment on pending litigation.
The Senate’s rules 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 legal counsel for ethics, stated.
“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 added.
In its complaint, the CLC writes that Cruz could have potentially marketed or purchased his book using campaign funds “without running afoul of the law.” He “could have included a small amount of information on an existing campaign website, the CLC said, or his campaign could have bought copies of the book directly from the publisher to be used as gifts to supporters if the publisher withheld royalties on those copies.”
“But Senator Cruz did not do either of these things,” the CLC writes 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.”
Cruz’s book, “One Vote Away: How A Single Supreme Court Seat Can Change History,” was released back in September.
In September, Cruz’s Facebook page began to run ads that promoted his book and encouraged his supporters to purchase it by using language such as “order your copy today” and “buy a copy, right now” the FEC complaint alleges.
Cruz ran those ads ran between Sept. 24 and Oct. 5. The ad also included a disclaimer, “Paid for by Ted Cruz for Senate.”
“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,” Fischer noted.
The letter to the Senate Ethics Committee also argues 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 said. “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.”