'Crossed a legal line': Watchdog charges that Ted Cruz violated campaign laws

'Crossed a legal line': Watchdog charges that Ted Cruz violated campaign laws

In the United States, the Federal Election Commission has very strict rules governing how campaign funds can and cannot be spent — and the Campaign Legal Center is alleging that Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas violated campaign finance rules by using donor funds to promote one of his books.

The CLC, a watchdog group founded in 2002, alleges that in late 2020, Cruz's campaign spent up to $18,000 on Facebook ads that encouraged viewers to purchase his book, "One Vote Away: How a Single Supreme Court Seat Can Change History," which became available on Amazon on September 29.

In an official press release, the CLC's director of federal reform, Brendan Fischer, alleged, "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."

However, CNBC's Kevin Breuninger reports that Chris Gober — an attorney for the Republican senator's campaign committee — is insisting that Cruz did nothing wrong. Breuninger quotes Gober as saying that Cruz "has closely followed Federal Election Commission laws and guidelines when promoting his book" and "has not received any royalties whatsoever for these book sales."

Fischer took issue with Gober's defense of his client, telling CNBC, "There seems to be no legitimate way for Cruz to know how many books were purchased as a result of these Facebook ads, and therefore, it's impossible to say that Cruz is not receiving royalties on the books sold as a result of the ads."

Breuninger notes that according to the CLC's press release, Cruz's book deal with Regnery Publishing included a $400,000 advance and a 15% royalty on net sales of hardcover copies. A previous Cruz book, "A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America," was released in 2015.

In addition to filing a complaint with the FEC, the CLC sent a letter to the Senate Ethics Committee asking for an investigation.

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