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Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to the media in Mission, Texas. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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.

Go deeper

Boehner book excerpt accuses Trump of inciting "bloody insurrection"

Photo: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Former House Speaker John Boehner continued his attacks on the modern Republican Party in a new book excerpt obtained the New York Times, accusing former President Trump of inciting "that bloody insurrection for nothing more than selfish reasons."

Why it matters: Boehner joins Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and other current or former members of the GOP establishment who have directly accused the most popular Republican in the party of inciting the violence of Jan. 6.

Report: LGBTQ+ Afghans' lives "dramatically worsened" under Taliban rule

Taliban fighters in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this month. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images

LGBTQ+ Afghans have been threatened, attacked and "faced an increasingly desperate situation and grave threats to their safety" since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last August, per a report published Wednesday.

What they're saying: "We spoke with LGBT Afghans who have survived gang rape, mob attacks, or have been hunted by their own family members who joined the Taliban, and they have no hope that state institutions will protect them," per a statement from study co-author J. Lester Feder.

3 hours ago - World

Canadian Indigenous group finds 93 suspected unmarked graves

A makeshift memorial honoring the 215 children whose remains were found in a mass grave in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, last May. Photo: Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images

Indigenous leaders in Canada's western province of British Columbia said Tuesday they believe they've found 93 unmarked graves near a former boarding school.

The big picture: Hundreds of mass graves have been found at the grounds of former residential schools for Indigenous children since last May, when the remains of 215 children were uncovered at one such site in B.C.