News & Politics

Legal experts explain why a lenient sentence for Derek Chauvin is unlikely

Derek Chauvin's trial in connection with the May 25, 2020 killing of George Floyd reached a dramatic conclusion when, on April 20, the former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty of three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Judge Peter Cahill hasn't set a sentencing date, and it remains to be seen how much time the 45-year-old Chauvin will spend in prison. But according to legal experts interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, it is unlikely that the sentence will be lenient.

Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison for the most serious of the three charges: second-degree murder, although sentencing guidelines in Minnesota recommend a sentence in the range of 11-15 years for the crimes he was found guilty of. Rachel Barkow, a professor at the New York University Law School, told the Journal that the prosecution has a strong case for a stiffer sentence than what is recommended in those guidelines.

Matthew Galluzzo, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor based in New York City, told the Journal that Cahill is "probably going to have to punish him a little more harshly, if for no other reason than to send a message and deter other people."

WSJ reporter Laura Kusisto notes, "Attorneys also said the high-profile nature of the case is likely to create pressure on the judge to mete out a harsh sentence" — adding that "legal experts were more divided about Mr. Chauvin's prospects of success on appeal."

"Some said the trial was riddled with issues that could endanger the prosecution's victory, including whether the riots after the killing of Daunte Wright by a Minneapolis police officer and comments by Rep. Maxine Waters intimidated the jury," Kusisto explains. "Defense lawyer Eric Nelson repeatedly asked to move the case out of Minneapolis, arguing that the air of tension in Hennepin County made it difficult for jurors to render a fair verdict out of fear for their own safety."

Galluzzo, however, told the Journal, "I think the defense was allowed to present their case."

How Josh Hawley and Marjorie Taylor Greene juiced their fundraising numbers

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Two of the leading Republican firebrands in Congress touted big fundraising hauls as a show of grassroots support for their high-profile stands against accepting the 2020 election results.

But new financial disclosures show that Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., relied on an email marketing vendor that takes as much as 80 cents on the dollar. That means their headline-grabbing numbers were more the product of expensively soliciting hardcore Republicans than an organic groundswell of far-reaching support.

Hawley and Greene each reported raising more than $3 million in the first three months of the year, an unusually large sum for freshman lawmakers, according to new filings with the Federal Election Commission. That's more than the average House member raises in an entire two-year cycle, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The tallies generated favorable press coverage for Hawley and Greene, and they both seized on the numbers to claim a popular mandate.

Politico called Greene's result “eye-popping" and “staggering," a sign that she “appears to have actually benefited from all the controversies that have consumed her first few months in office." The House voted in February to remove Greene from her committee assignments because of her social media posts that promoted far-right conspiracy theories; racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim rhetoric; and violence against Democratic leaders.

“I am humbled, overjoyed and so excited to announce what happened over the past few months as I have been the most attacked freshman member of Congress in history," Greene said in an emailed statement on April 7. “Accumulating $3.2 million with small dollar donations is the absolute BEST support I could possibly ask for!"

As for Hawley, who was the first senator to say he'd object to certifying the Electoral College results on Jan. 6, Politico proclaimed that his massive increase showed “how anti-establishment Republicans are parlaying controversy into small-dollar fundraising success." Hawley's pollster, Wes Anderson with the political consulting firm OnMessage, said in a memo distributed to supporters that the “fundraising surge" made “crystal clear that a strong majority of Missouri voters and donors stand firmly with Senator Hawley, in spite of the continued false attacks coming from the radical left."

It wasn't until later, when the campaigns disclosed their spending details in last week's FEC reports, that it became clearer how they raised so much money: by paying to borrow another organization's mailing list.

“List rental" was the No. 1 expense for both campaigns, totaling almost $600,000 for each of them. It's common for campaigns to rent lists from outside groups or other candidates to broaden their reach. But for Hawley and Greene, the cost was unusually high, amounting to almost 20% of all the money they raised in January, February and March.

The actual return on renting the lists was likely even lower, since it's probable that not all their donations came from emailing those lists. It's not possible to tell from the FEC filings which contributions resulted from which solicitations. Firms that sell lists sometimes demand huge cuts: The top vendor for Hawley and Greene, LGM Consulting Group, charges as much as 80%, according to a contract disclosed in Florida court records as part of a dispute involving Lacy Johnson's long-shot bid to unseat Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

The Hawley and Greene campaigns did not respond to requests for comment. LGM Consulting Group's principal, Bryan G. Rudnick, also did not respond to phone messages or an email.

Far beyond these two campaigns or this one company, small-dollar fundraising has exploded thanks to easy online payments, which are rewriting the playbook for campaign finance in both parties. At the same time, the rise of email fundraising has spawned some aggressive or even deceptive marketing tactics and made plenty of room for consultants and vendors to profit. A move by then-President Donald Trump's 2020 campaign to sign up supporters for recurring payments by default led to as much as 3% of all credit card fraud claims filed with major banks, according to The New York Times. In some long-shot congressional races, consultants could walk away with almost half of all the money raised, The Washington Post reported.

Hawley's and Greene's list rentals show how politicians can pad their fundraising figures — if they're willing to pay for it. There's scant evidence that fundraising success represents broad popular support for a politician outside the narrow slice of Americans who make political contributions, and many of the people on the rented mailing lists may not have been constituents of Hawley's or Greene's. Still, the money is real, and the perception of fundraising star power is its own kind of success in Washington.

“They're juicing their numbers, but their return on investment is still a net gain," said Jessica Baldwin-Philippi, a professor at Fordham University who researches how political campaigns use digital communications. “The money matters, the articles about the money matter and convey power, and it adds to their clout."

The cost to rent a list can be a flat fee, a percentage cut of money raised, or even all money raised after a campaign clears a certain threshold. Donors have limited visibility into where their money goes and may not realize how much is being diverted from the candidate they mean to support.

Renting lists can pay dividends for campaigns because people who respond by donating then enter the candidates' own databases of supporters, and past contributors are much more likely to give again. Candidates with big donor bases can tap them for more money later or turn around and rent their own list to others.

Political professionals have gotten more sophisticated about efficiently converting online outrage into campaign cash. At the same time, candidates who court controversy may increasingly rely on rage-fueled online fundraising as more traditional donors freeze them out. In the aftermath of Jan. 6, Hawley lost the support of some big donors, and major companies such as AT&T and Honeywell pledged to withhold donations from lawmakers who objected to the Electoral College vote.

“The news cycle that emerges out of controversial behavior by a candidate is like a strong gust of wind, and these mechanisms like list-building are the equivalent of sails," said Eric Wilson, a digital strategist who has advised Sen. Marco Rubio and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “For candidates like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Josh Hawley, who have largely been shunned by traditional corporate donors who are frequently the mainstays for elected officials, especially in off years, they have no choice but to pursue grassroots fundraising. And in order for that to work, they have to continue to make more noise. It is a feedback loop in that regard."

It's not clear how Rudnick compiled his list (or lists). But one clue to the audience that Rudnick may help unlock is who else has hired him. Besides Hawley and Greene, FEC records show that last quarter LGM Consulting also rented a list or provided online fundraising solicitations to:

In the 2020 campaign cycle, the firm's clients included then-Rep. Doug Collins, a Trump ally who lost the Georgia Senate primary; Madison Cawthorn, the 25-year-old congressman from North Carolina who spoke at the Jan. 6 rally; and Laura Loomer, a far-right internet personality who calls herself a “proud Islamophobe" and lost a run for a Florida congressional seat.

Rudnick has his own history of controversy. He was fired by the Pennsylvania Republican Party in 2008 after sending emails to Jewish voters likening a vote for Barack Obama to the leadup to the Holocaust. “Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake," the email said. “Let's not make a similar one this year!" Rudnick told the Associated Press at the time that party officials authorized the message, but he declined to name them.

Campaigns don't have to disclose whose list an email is being sent to, and fundraising emails aren't comprehensively made public, so it's not possible to tell exactly how Hawley and Greene used the lists they rented. But several of Hawley's fundraising emails contained digital fingerprints tying them to Rudnick: They were sent from a web domain that shares an address with one of Rudnick's companies, and the links to donate include “ASG," short for Rudnick's Alliance Strategies Group.

In one email, sent on March 6, Hawley touted his interview on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show, in which Hawley said Democrats would use the Jan. 6 insurrection “as an excuse to seize power, to control more power, to step on people's Second Amendment rights, to take away their First Amendment rights." Following up on a major media appearance with a fundraising email is an effective technique, Wilson said.

In a second email using the Rudnick-linked domain, Hawley explicitly laid out his goal of posting an impressive fundraising number.

“I will be filing the first FEC financial report I have filed since I stood up for the integrity of our nation's election and the left began their attempts to cancel me," Hawley said in the email. “With your donation of $25, $50, $100 or more before the critical deadline on March 31, we will shock the left — they won't be able to ignore us any longer."

ACLU warns that major government surveillance decisions are happening in secret

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is raising concerns about the level of transparency, or lack thereof, the U.S. government exercises when it comes to electronic surveillance.

On Tuesday, April 20, the non-profit organization discussed the role of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, (FISC) a specialized court responsible for the issuance of "secret legal opinions authorizing the U.S. government to conduct sweeping programs of electronic surveillance."

It has been noted that the FISC's use of secret legal opinion has had a major impact on "Americans' privacy rights, freedom of expression, and free association." Now, they are asking for the U.S. Supreme Court to execute an order for the FISC to publish its secret opinions and only implement redactions that are absolutely necessary to serve as a preventative measure where real harm is an threat to national security.

According to the petition filed by ACLU lawyers in corrorboration with former Solicitor General Ted Olson, Columbia University's Knight First Amendment Institute, and the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale University, the organization argues that the the First Amendment grants the American public a "presumptive right of access to significant judicial opinions, including those of the FISC."

The organization highlighted the U.S. Supreme Court petition and the FISC's operations.

The FISC operates behind closed doors and does not customarily publish its decisions. Although Congress required the government to review significant FISC opinions for declassification and public release when it passed the USA FREEDOM Act in 2015, that review is conducted solely by executive branch officials, not a court. In addition, the government has refused to apply this requirement to FISC opinions issued prior to June 2015.

According to the ACLU, there are also a number of discrepancies with the FISC, its special court of appeals known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISCR) and both entities' inaccurate stance on the First Amendment. The non-profit argues that both courts actually lack the jurisdiction to even take certain motives into consideration.

The ACLU argues:

As we argue in our petition, the FISC and FISCR were wrong about the First Amendment. Our legal system is founded on the presumption that laws are public. That presumption applies to all judicial opinions containing significant interpretations of law. There's no special exception for opinions involving government surveillance and national security.

In reference to the FISC and FISCR's jurisdiction, the ACLU notes that "all courts created under Article III of the Constitution, including the FISC and FISCR, have inherent authority over their own records."

As a result of placing its legal opinion outside of the ramifications of the First Amendment, ACLU argues "the FISC has deprived the public of information that's vital to understanding how the FISC has interpreted the law, and the government surveillance that it has authorized."

Now, they are advocating for the U.S. Supreme Court to properly enforce the authentic rights provided under the First Amendment.

'You know nothing!' Ex-cop explodes on Jim Jordan as House Judiciary hearing goes off the rails

Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), a former police officer, clashed with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) on Tuesday during a House Judiciary hearing.

"I served as a law enforcement officer for 27 years. It is a tough job. And good police officers deserve your support," Demings said. She then accused Republicans of only supporting police when it is politically convenient, prompting Jordan to interrupt.

"Did I strike a nerve?" Demings responded, adding that police officers should not be used as political pawns. "You and your colleagues should be ashamed of yourselves."

The outburst led House Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) to plead with members of the committee to not interrupt one another.

"When you give a speech about motives and questioning motives... how do we address that?" Jordan protested.

"I have watched [police officers] live and die, and you know nothing about that," Demings said.

Watch video below:

Val Demings vs Jim Jordan www.youtube.com

Justice Amy Coney Barrett called on to recuse in big dark money case

Three Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday urged U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett to recuse herself from a pending case revolving around the nonprofit arm of Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-funded political advocacy group that spent heavily to ensure Barrett's confirmation to the bench last October.

In a letter (pdf) to Barrett, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) argue that Americans for Prosperity's big spending campaign in support of the newest justice's confirmation casts serious doubt on whether she can be impartial in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Rodriquez.

The Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) is seeking to strike down a California law that requires certain nonprofit groups to disclose their major donors to the state attorney general's office. In March 2019, a federal appeals court upheld the California law on the grounds that it "serves an important governmental interest," prompting AFPF to take its case to the high court, which agreed to hear the challenge earlier this year.

With oral arguments set to begin on April 26, Whitehouse, Blumenthal, and Johnson call on Barrett to "consider seriously and address publicly the question of recusal in this case" given Americans for Prosperity's "full-scale campaign" in favor of her confirmation last year. The Democratic lawmakers argue that "there is no reasonable difference" between AFPF and Americans for Prosperity.

"The American people are alarmed about the seemingly dominant influence of special interests on our politics and government," the lawmakers write. "Our judiciary is a target of this massive influence apparatus. Now, in AFPF, the court takes up an important case that squarely implicates the power of big special interests to exercise their influence from behind veils of secrecy."

In an amicus brief (pdf) filed with the Supreme Court last month, Whitehouse and 14 other Democratic senators warned that a ruling in AFPF's favor would allow "dark-money contributors to secure broad constitutional protection of their anonymous influence, so they can attack any and all disclosure requirements in other contexts—a 'moon shot' to lock in dark money's hold on our politics and policymaking, possibly forever."

"The flotilla of anonymously funded and largely industry-aligned nonprofit organizations filing amicus briefs in support of [AFPF] should set off alarm bells that something bigger than California's tax disclosure law is at issue," the senators write. "The dots are not hard to connect. The bigger prize being sought is blanket constitutional protection of dark money and secret influence."

Vox's Ian Millhiser echoed that warning over the weekend, writing that the conservative-dominated Supreme Court's ruling "could allow political groups to operate with far more secrecy, allowing wealthy donors to shape American politics in the shadows."

Derek Chauvin found guilty on all counts in murder of George Floyd

On Tuesday, after 11 hours of deliberation, the jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin found him guilty on all charges in the murder of George Floyd, a man whose death sparked a massive wave of protests in the summer of 2020.

The verdict had been highly anticipated around the country as the trial carried on. Chauvin's attorneys tried to argue that it was reasonable to doubt whether their client had murdered Floyd, suggesting that his health condition and drug use contributed to his death in police custody. However, the prosecution argued that expert testimony, video, and common sense conclusively demonstrated that Chauvin's decision to kneel on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes directly led to his death.

Prosecutors said that Chauvin's use of excessive force was a third-degree assault that killed Floyd, constituting second-degree murder. He was also charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Law enforcement had been on high alert after the trial's closing arguments, as authorities feared an acquittal or other result might trigger more protest and unrest. The National Guard was deployed to Minneapolis, and barricades were brought out around the U.S. Capitol in preparation for the verdict.

Kevin McCarthy's plot against Maxine Waters goes down in flames

The House of Representatives has just voted against censuring U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) for remarks she made at a Black Lives Matter rally on Saturday. Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy filed the resolution.

The vote to table the resolution was, as expected, along party lines, 216-210.

McCarthy's resolution to censure Waters says she "joined protestors" in Minnesota "who were gathered outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department," which is not unlawful and is a First Amendment right.

It also says she said: "We're looking for a guilty verdict" in the Chauvin trial.

And it says if the jury does not find Chauvin guilty protestors should "Stay on the street, and we've got to get more active, we've got to get more confrontational, we've got to make sure they know we mean business."

He also cited remarks made by the judge in the Chauvin case, who denounced Waters' remarks.

Waters' remarks were not illegal, nor did they incite violence, contrary to what many Republicans have alleged. McCarthy never attempted to censure President Donald Trump, nor did he vote to impeach him.

Columnist argues Biden can expose the Republicans' 'monstrous lie' about his presidency

When President Joe Biden was sworn into office three months ago, his supporters knew that Republicans in Congress would aggressively fight against his Build Back Better Agenda. Regardless, Biden enjoyed 59% approval in a recent Pew Research poll. And Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent, in a column published this week, argues that Biden's infrastructure plan could make him even more popular.

"We shouldn't let it be forgotten that Donald Trump ran for reelection on a monstrous lie," Sargent writes. "If Joe Biden won, then-President Trump told us, the mentally declining Biden would fall captive to his party's rabid socialist left flank, which would immediately drive the country into a depression. This lie lives on — Republicans continue to tell repurposed versions of it right now — yet precisely the opposite is happening."

Sargent continues, "It's not just that the center and left of the Democratic Party are working together more collaboratively than expected. It's also that Biden's willing incorporation of leftist ideas is exactly why he's posting some early successes. New details about the next big phase of President Biden's jobs and infrastructure package provide an occasion to consider how and why this is happening, and what it means for our politics."

The columnist goes on to say that the "next phase will involve another $1 trillion in proposed spending on various family support programs, on top of the $2 trillion infrastructure plan that congressional Democrats are assembling." According to Sargent, Biden's infrastructure plan "embodies some core insights of progressive economics."

"Our caregiving economy has been woefully underfunded," Sargent observes, "and the crucial societal contribution of care work — including child care — is badly undercompensated. Far too many are denied basic human goods like college education and the opportunity to take time off work to heal or spend time with a newborn."

Sargent wraps up his column by noting that although some things could derail Biden's economic agenda, it is on the right track for now.

"Sure, a lot could go wrong," Sargent explains. "Biden's plans could fail in Congress or at implementation. The left might blast them as insufficient. Voters could turn on all this spending…. But for now, the apparent broad public rejection of GOP arguments is awfully heartening."

A Republican tried to attack DC statehood — but there was a glaring problem right behind her

Republicans have not only been fighting statehood for the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico — they have also been voicing their opposition to statehood for the District of Columbia. One Republican who aggressively expressed her opposition to D.C. statehood this week was Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina. And a Washington Post reporter explained why Mace's argument was problematic in light of who was near her when she was talking during a news conference on Tuesday.

With Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming standing behind her, the 43-year-old Mace argued, "D.C. wouldn't even qualify as a singular congressional district. And here they are, they want the power and authority of being an entire state in the United States. And they want that power."

But on Twitter, Post reporter Dave Weigel noted that the District of Columbia has more voters than all of Wyoming:

Here are some more reactions to Mace's opposition to D.C. statehood:







House Democrats have found a 'workaround' to avoid Republican obstruction

During the Biden era, some far-right Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus have resorted to a delaying tactic designed to create legislative gridlock in the U.S. House of Representatives. But according to Politico reporters Sarah Ferris, Melanie Zanona and Olivia Beavers, House Democrats believe they have found a "workaround."

In an article published by Politico this week, the reporters explain, "The conservative firebrands have sought to make life difficult for Democrats in protest against what they say are efforts to shut out the minority party. But their tactics have made it virtually impossible for Democrats and Republicans to fast-track so-called suspension bills — noncontroversial measures that are critical to running the House — and instead, created a legislative slog."

Ferris, Zanona and Beavers add that "under the response shaped by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, leaders of the far-right Freedom Caucus would no longer be able to effectively seize control of the floor by demanding individual votes on dozens of suspension bills and forcing members to vote late into the night." Hoyer, according to the Politico reporters, "plans to package much of that broadly palatable suspension legislation into a single block on the floor, which he said would 'save us somewhere in the neighborhood of seven-and-a-half hours' of voting time."

Politico quotes Hoyer as saying, "I expect to make a motion prior to us voting on any of the suspension bills that they be considered en bloc."

Not all Republicans are happy with the delaying tactics that some members of the House Freedom Caucus have been resorting to. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has complained that it does more harm than good.

The California Republican told Politico, "I've been meeting with Steny, and I went to the Freedom Caucus last night. We had a good discussion. They want to fight. They're frustrated with everything that's happening, and I get all that. But my point is: What's the goal, what's the strategy?"

Here's the insane amount Republican orgs spent buying GOP books to pad best-seller lists last election cycle

The problem with having a base that isn't particularly interested in reading anything more than a headline is that it is hard to sell books to those folks. You couple that with holding and promoting wildly unpopular positions on health care, foreign policy, economics, race, and justice, and a proclivity to act morally hypocritical and you are creating the kinds of conditions most book publishers would shy away from. Add to that most of the things you say are factually incorrect, a potential lawsuit in the waiting for a publisher, and it is a wonder how any of these conservative jokes get publishing deals in the first place.

However, the conservative oligarchy-bubble has figured a way around promoting an unpopular product—buy the perception that it isn't popular. For some time news outlets have reported on the self-dealing, bulk-book buying tendencies of campaigns and Republican committees, that help propel books by people from people like Sens. Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, and Tom Cotton, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, and cosmic embarrassment Donald Trump Jr., access to national best-seller lists. Being on a best-seller list—especially from one of the Republican proclaimed fake news sites like the Washington Post or the New York Times, can boost your sales further being the premiere advertisement for literature and nonfiction in the United States.

The Washington Post did a report on the shady-quality of this practice, pointing out that "Four party-affiliated organizations, including the Republican National Committee, collectively spent more than $1 million during the past election cycle mass-purchasing books written by GOP candidates, elected officials and personalities, according to Federal Election Commission expenditure reports." The practice is not simply deceitful in promoting a false sense of popularity for unpopular ideas, but because authors of books make serious money if they can get on best-seller lists off of royalties from hundreds of thousands of dollars in book sales.

One of the more well-publicized self-dealings in recent months was Texas's answer to intelligence, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, whose book got a $400,000 boost in sales from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). The NRCC defended its purchase of Crenshaw's book, saying that it had fundraised no less than three times the amount off of the book (signed copies, etc.), making it a legitimate purchase. But the Republican former Navy SEAL, who holds an elected office based almost entirely on the truly twisted Republican gerrymandering of a Texas district, was able to point to his best-seller status as proof of the popularity of his opinions.

Trump Jr., his dad the Donald, truly unpopular Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, unpopular China-phobe Sen. Tom Cotton, and Capitol building insurgent supporter Sen. Josh Hawley all got lucky with bulk purchases of their books this past election cycle according to the Post. Hawley's big pre-buy got sidetracked when Simon & Schuster canceled the book deal with Hawley for his sweeping endorsements of anti-Democratic, fact-free election fraud charges—though he forgot to mention he likely kept some of the advance while he whined about freedom of speech.

Tom Cotton, best-known for being a slimmer, cleaner-shaven, and more hawkish version of Ted Cruz, seems to have received quite a bit of help from political action committee the Senate Conservatives Fund. According to the Post, they spent close to $90,000 buying Cotton's book—the title of which is something like Soldier Duty, Soldier soldier, duty duty, I hate China and Democracy. Coincidentally, this was the same PAC that threw $65,000 at "Regnery Publishing, [Ted] Cruz's publisher, for advance copies of Hawley's forthcoming book."

Last week, campaign finance watchdog Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint against Sen. Ted Cruz, with the Federal Election Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee. Highlighting Cruz's 15% royalty rate and his campaign's expenditure of around $18,000 on Facebook ads promoting his book, the complaint accuses Cruz of violating "the ban on the personal use of campaign funds at 52 U.S.C. § 30114(b)(1)." The complaint also reminds the two committees that the evidence they are presenting is just the Facebook advertisements and there might very well be Cruz campaign expenditures promoting his garbage tome on other platforms.

In the three months following the publication of Cruz's book, Ted Cruz for Senate paid third-party booksellers Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble over $154,000 for "books." Other Facebook ads offered supporters a signed copy of the book in exchange for a contribution (while also urging viewers to "pre-order a copy today at Amazon or your local book retailer") and linked to a Ted Cruz for Senate fundraising page.

This isn't news for Ted Cruz, who has long bent, if not broke, the laws of campaigning and campaign finance. His interest in honesty has never existed and he has never shown the slightest of moral compunctions. And while Ted Cruz may technically be considered more intelligent than someone like Donald Trump Jr., the two men participate in identical cynical and corrupt behavior. In Junior's case, it's his actual daddy that helps pay for his lack of popularity, while in Ted Cruz's case, it's the Republican Party machine and his own campaign that he treats like a rich daddy.

Technically, the issue here is that Ted Cruz's campaign did not bulk buy directly through the publisher. The reason why this is important is that this issue has long been understood to be a thorny problem, and the FEC has made rulings on it dating back to 2014. Buying directly from the publisher, according to the FEC, allows the publisher to count those sales outside of the sales of books that they owe royalties to authors for. Cruz's campaign spent thousands directly through retailers. This makes it much more like that Cruz's royalty payouts got a direct personal bank account boost from his own campaign's funds. He's not the only one, as everybody's favorite know-nothing-at-all Dan Crenshaw's book got almost a quarter of a million in sales from a retail direct purchase by the NRCC.

Before you let that friend of yours that says chem-trails control the weather chime in, the Post explains that this level of bulk-buying, padding out the book sales, is largely a GOP "phenomenon."

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