Supreme Court lets Ted Cruz pay himself back money he lent to his campaign – and kick John McCain’s ghost

The court’s ruling will allow candidates to reimburse themselves more money they lent their campaigns than the law previously allowed.

Eric Garcia
Monday 16 May 2022 20:11
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The Supreme Court released a ruling on a case regarding Senator Ted Cruz that said removed limits on how much a candidate can pay themselves back when they loan their campaigns money.

The ruling stems from Mr Cruz’s 2018 campaign, when he ran against Beto O’Rourke for re-election to his Senate seat in Texas. During that time, Mr Cruz loaned his campaign a total of $260,000.

After the campaign ended, it began to pay Mr Cruz back. But the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act stipulates that campaigns can only pay a candidate back for contributions for more than $250,000 within 20 days after an election, and then the money is treated as a campaign contribution. Mr Cruz’s campaign had begun making payments back to Mr Cruz after that amount of time had lapsed.

The Bipatisan Campaign Reform Act passed Congress in 2002 with the help of former Senators Russ Feingold, a Democrat, and John McCain of Arizona. Mr McCain particularly disdained Mr Cruz, calling him and Senator Rand Paul “wacko birds.” In addition, as HuffPost reported, Mr Cruz will be able to pay himself back $540,000 that he lent his Senate campaign when he ran in 2012.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion of the court that many candidates lend their campaigns money as a means of jumpstarting their candidacies.

“As the Government recognizes, the Committee’s present inability to repay the final $10,000 of Cruz’s loans constitutes an injury in fact both to Cruz and to his Committee,” he wrote. “And the bar on repayment injures the Committee by preventing it from discharging its obligation to repay its debt, which may inhibit that form of financing in the future.”

Mr Roberts said that the law puts an undue hardship on candidates.

“We also conclude that this provision burdens core political speech without proper justification,” he said.

Associates Justices Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh joined the chief justice in his majority opinion.

But Justice Elena Kagan criticised the opinion in a dissent that Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer, the court’s other two liberals, joined.

“In the coming months and years, they receive government benefits—maybe favorable legislation, maybe prized appointments, maybe lucrative contracts,” she wrote in her dissent. “The politician is happy; the donors are happy. The only loser is the public. It inevitably suffers from government corruption.”

The ruling would allow for more candidates to likely lend their campaigns more than $250,000 with the expectation that they will be allowed to pay their campaigns back long after the 20-day period has expired. This could in turn lead to more money coming from self-financed candidates into campaigns.

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