Ted Cruz is reportedly raising funds off the Georgia runoff — but sending the money to his own campaign

Ted Cruz is reportedly raising funds off the Georgia runoff — but sending the money to his own campaign

In January, the outcome of two U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia will determine whether or not Republicans maintain their Senate majority. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has been using the runoffs for fundraising, warning his donors that Democrats will control the Senate if they win both races.

But journalist Lachlan Markay, this week in an article for the Daily Beast, reports that none of the money Cruz is bringing in is actually going to the incumbent Republican candidates in the runoffs: Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue. And Markay emphasizes that Cruz is hardly alone when it comes to invoking the Georgia runoffs without raising funds directly for the candidates.

Markay notes that in 15 Facebook ads that his campaign purchased, Cruz is seen "dramatically hyping the need to hold two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia runoff contests" — and the Texas senator says melodramatic things like "gun-grabbing, tax hikes, open borders and stacking the Supreme Court — that's the radical Democrat agenda if they win the Georgia Senate elections." But according to Markay, none of the $5 donations Cruz is requesting for his "Keep Georgia Red Fund" are going directly to Loeffler or Perdue.

"Facebook users who clicked through to the online donation page — and read the fine print at the bottom — would see that the actual beneficiary was Cruz's own campaign committee, not Sens. Kelly Loeffler or David Perdue, the two Republicans running for reelection in Georgia," Markay explains.

Cruz, according to Markay, "is just one of a number of elected officials of both parties using the competitive — and extremely expensive — Georgia runoff contests to raise money for themselves."

"Increasingly, those officials are doing so on Facebook, where a political ad ban instituted in late October was lifted this month, but only for ads in Georgia," Markay explains. "That's led to a rash of Facebook ads invoking the Senate contests in the state on behalf of out-of-state political candidates. On some occasions, the ads don't even mention the runoff contests, but are targeted at users in Georgia in an effort to exploit Facebook's state-specific political advertising policy."

In November, Markay observes, the National Republican Senatorial Committee "encouraged its members to use grassroots donor enthusiasm surrounding the runoffs to help build their own fundraising programs."

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has led the way for his caucus," Markay observes. "His campaign has been sending some text messages and running Georgia-focused Google ads linking to a page on the GOP fundraising platform WinRed that says donations will benefit McConnell's own campaign committee."

Markay points out that some Democrats have been "getting in on the act" by invoking the Georgia Senate runoffs without actually raising funds for the Democratic candidates, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, for example, has run some Facebook ads telling Democratic voters that if they "want to take back the Senate and retire Mitch McConnell," they need to support Ossoff and Warnock — although the ads, according to Markay, "link to a donation page that specifies that the funds will go not to Ossoff or Warnock, but to Gillibrand's political action committee, Off the Sidelines PAC."

"Gillibrand's PAC largely exists to steer funds to other Democratic candidates," Markay notes. "So, it's not inconceivable that some of the money raised through those ads will support Democrats in Georgia. Indeed, the PAC donated to both Ossoff and Warnock ahead of the general election. But by law, it can only give each of them $5000 before the runoff contest in January, likely less than what the PAC is raising with appeals to the Peach State Senate contests."
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