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Groups File Complaint Over iHeartMedia’s $630,000 Payment To PAC Supporting Ted Cruz

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is facing a campaign finance complaint for allegedly violating the federal campaign finance laws as IHeartMedia paid more than $630,000 in advertising from his podcast to a PAC supporting his re-election campaign. 

On Tuesday, the Campaign Legal Center and End Citizens United filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Cruz may have improperly directed iHeartMedia to send the money to the Truth and Courage PAC, a group focused on “ensuring that Ted Cruz is re-elected to the United States Senate in 2024.”

The PAC is also focused on attacking U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, Cruz’s opponent in the Senate race.

According to the complaint, Cruz’s podcast, “Verdict with Ted Cruz,” is funded, marketed and distributed by iHeartMedia. Since March 2023, the company, through an affiliate, has made five payments to the PAC.

The payments exceed what the law allows, as federal officials can’t solicit a contribution of more than $5,000 or direct more than $5,000 to a super PAC.

“By soliciting or directing $630,850.08 of iHeartMedia’s corporate funds to or on behalf of TCP in connection with his 2024 election, Cruz appears to have brazenly violated these federal campaign finance laws,” the complaint reads.

A spokesperson for iHeart said the payments are associated with Cruz’s podcast ad revenue, but the terms of the payments are still unclear because the agreement between the company and Cruz is not public.

With the complaint, both End Citizens United and the Campaign Legal Center are seeking a formal FEC investigation and “appropriate sanctions for any and all violations, including civil penalties sufficient to deter future violations, injunctive relief to remedy these violations and prohibit any and all future violations.” 

According to the Dallas Morning News, Cruz’s podcast episodes have included advertisements for companies such as BP, Safeway, Consumer Cellular, Carvana, Lexus and UberEats.

A BP America spokesperson told the Dallas Morning News that the company doesn’t specify individual podcasts when it buys ads through iHeart and that it was never informed that its spending was going to a super PAC. The company ordered iHeart to remove ads from any podcast that funnels ad revenue to PACs, campaigns or political parties.

In 2022, the Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee alleging that the deal between Cruz and iHeartMedia was illegal because senators are prohibited from accepting gifts from lobbyists and because iHeartMedia provided free production and marketing services for Cruz’s podcast. A Cruz spokesman said the senator did not benefit financially from the deal, and the committee found that Cruz hadn’t violated any laws and closed the complaint.

Staff
Staff
Written by RA News staff.

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