Watchdog files complaint accusing Cruz of using campaign funds to promote book
A campaign finance watchdog filed two ethics complaints on Wednesday accusing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) of "illegally using campaign funds to promote his book."
Why it matters: Using campaign funds to ask supporters to buy Cruz's book, as the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) alleges, would break the Federal Election Commission's rule barring candidates from using political contributions for personal gain.
Details: The CLC alleges Cruz spent up to $18,000 in Facebook ads to ask supporters to buy a copy of his latest book on the Supreme Court, for which he received a $400,000 advance from the publisher.
- Cruz receives 15% royalties on each hardcover sold, the watchdog said, citing his financial disclosure report. The Cruz campaign denied that he received royalties in a statement from his lawyer.
- The watchdog notes that although the FEC has previously allowed campaigns to offer a candidate's book as a gift to supporters after purchasing it directly from the publisher — if royalties are withheld — that would not apply to Cruz.
- "Cruz instead used campaign funds for online ads that exclusively promoted his book and directed supporters to purchase it from third-party booksellers," the CLC alleges.
What they're saying: “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,” Brendan Fischer, CLC director of federal reform, said in a statement.
- “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 other side: “Senator Cruz’s campaign has closely followed Federal Election Commission laws and guidelines when promoting his book, and he has not received any royalties whatsoever for these book sales," Chris Gober, attorney for Cruz's Senate campaign, said in an emailed statement.
What to watch: The CLC is calling on the Federal Election Commission and Senate Ethics Committee to investigate its claims against Cruz.
Go deeper: The Daily Beast previously reported on Cruz's alleged use of campaign funds to promote his book.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from Cruz's lawyer.