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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.

DHS to increase deportation flights to Haiti from Del Rio

Migrants walk across the Rio Grande River carrying supplies back to a makeshift encampment under the international bridge between Del Rio, Texas, and Acuña, Mexico. Officials are struggling to provide food, water, shelter and sanitation, forcing migrants to cross the Rio Grande several times per day for basic necessities. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Saturday announced plans to ramp up deportation flights to Haiti out of the small Texas border town Del Rio, starting as soon as Sunday.

Why it matters: Reports have emerged of more than 10,000 migrants, primarily from Haiti, crowded in a temporary camp under the international bridge in Del Rio. Hoping to find refuge in the United States, they've had to bear with filthy conditions and the scorching sun for days, per an NBC News affiliate.

2 hours ago - World

Pope Francis urges bishops to listen to survivors of sexual abuse

Pope Francis rides his Pope mobile through a crowd of pilgrims before holding an open-air mass on September 15, 2021 in Sastin, Slovakia. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Pope Francis on Saturday urged European bishops to listen to survivors of clergy sexual abuse, saying "these important discussions truly touch the future of the church," AP reports.

Driving the news: Francis spoke in a video message to Central and Eastern European bishops who are convening in Poland for a four-day child protection conference beginning on Sunday.