Ted Cruz with microphone and headphones with follar hearts in the background

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Ted Cruz hit with election finance complaint over $600,000 in podcast payments to his PAC

Ted Cruz doesn't take any payment for the podcast, but his PAC does.


Marlon Ettinger


Posted on Apr 9, 2024

A pair of liberal campaign ethics advocacy groups filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) today against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and a PAC supporting his reelection campaign over what the groups called violations of federal campaign finance laws related to a podcast Cruz hosts for iHeartMedia.

The podcast, “Verdict with Ted Cruz,” pumps out conservative messaging and analysis of current events from Cruz and his co-host Ben Ferguson, a Texas-based radio talk show host.

According to the complaint filed by the non-profits, the podcast, which Cruz launched in 2020, has been “paid for, marketed, and distributed” by iHeartMedia since 2022. 

But despite Cruz and the radio network claiming that he does the podcast on a purely volunteer basis, the complaint alleges that he’s actually receiving what are essentially backdoor contributions by way of the Truth & Courage PAC (TCP), whose website describes itself as being focused on “ensuring that Ted Cruz is re-elected to the United States Senate in 2024.”

That’s because of $630,850.09 worth of payments the company made to TCP since 2023, which the campaign classified as “Digital Income.”

iHeartMedia says the payments are from the advertising that they sell on the show—which the FEC complaint says should be classified as contributions.

The FEC complaint was filed in response to reporting by Forbes and the Houston Chronicle, who highlighted the payments made by iHeartMedia to TCP.

“The payments come directly from the iHeartMedia company, which is headquartered in San Antonio,” reported the Chronicle. “Cruz’s super PAC appears to be the only political organization to receive regular payments from the company, according to FEC records. The network has its own PAC that regularly gives to politicians on both sides of the aisle, though in much smaller increments.”

According to the FEC complaint, both Cruz and TCP may have allegedly violated campaign finance laws by directing the advertising money into their coffers without classifying it as a “contribution.” If Cruz, or somebody at his direction, was found to have instructed iHeartRadio to handle the money that way, it could count as “soliciting soft-money” from a corporation.

Cruz dismissed the idea that he’d violated campaign finance law in response to questions from reporter Shannon Ryan from Houston’s 13, reported the Daily Beast.

“You know, it really is sad what’s happened to the media, which is the media exists right now seemingly to parrot left-wing Democrat attacks,” Cruz accused Ryan.

But anti-Cruz online posters quickly jumped on the story to take swipes at Cruz.

“Is there ever a time you’re not self promoting #PodcasterTed,” posted @imdeborah63 in response to a tweet by Cruz promising his book “Unwoke.” “Please share with us how you do your podcast for free, but then iHeartMedia donates over $600k to your superpac? Sounds like an FEC violation.”

“So here you r, writing a book, doing podcasts all in a effort 2 promote yourself.  What exactly do u do 4 your constituents?” asked @CSAresu. “You don’t answer the phone, return calls, u vote against bills that would help them, but take credit when fed $ flows to TX. Wake up TX. You voted 4 a con.”

Liberals also hopped on a post where Cruz called for Biden to withdraw his judge nomination for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Adeel Mangi, over allegations that he worked for an organization that defended “cop killers.”

“Be nice to judges. You may be facing one soon,” posted @DougMatatall3.

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*First Published: Apr 9, 2024, 2:43 pm CDT