Ted Cruz Allegedly Violated Federal Law To Sell His New Book
Cruz’s book, titled One Vote Away: How A Single Supreme Court Seat Can Change History, was published in September 2020 and went on to become a New York Times and Amazon bestseller.
However, it seems the senator may have inappropriately promoted retail sales of his book with adverts posted on his official Facebook candidate page that were allegedly paid for with campaign donations.
According to a report from The Daily Beast, Cruz’s campaign, Ted Cruz for Senate, paid for 17 adverts promoting the senator’s book between September and October last year.
The sponsored posts were catalogued in Facebook’s political ads library, and reportedly featured a video of Cruz telling followers to purchase his book from third parties. The posts also included links to landing pages on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million, with the copy on the Amazon links reading: ‘Buy my book.’
Senate candidates are barred by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) from using donor contributions for their own financial benefit, for example by promoting items that generate private income, including publishing royalties.
While political committees often offer books as ‘donor mementos’ in exchange for donations, Cruz’s attempt to sell his book outright appears to have crossed a line.
Jenna Grande, press secretary for government accountability group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, commented: ‘This looks like exactly what you’re not supposed to do.’
Speaking to The Daily Beast, Grande admitted that election laws are ‘not entirely clear’ on the particular issue, but that ‘it very much appears’ that Cruz used campaign funds to promote the sales of his book.
Campaign committees can only be used to engage in bona fide campaign activities, not personal and commercial enterprises, and by explicitly telling his followers to ‘Buy my new book!’ and linking to bookseller pages for doing that, Cruz appears to have violated the campaign finance laws his campaign is bound to follow.
Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform at the Campaign Legal Center, noted the FEC advised in 2008 that ‘using campaign funds to market a candidate’s book violates the ban on personal use.’ In a 2006 advisory opinion, however, it ‘said that it was permissible for candidates to post links to their books on campaign websites, reasoning that there is basically no cost involved in throwing a link onto an existing page.’
Fischer added: ‘We don’t know how extensive these personal use violations might be, because any similar ads run on websites other than Facebook or Google are not public.’
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