Ted Cruz’s Podcast Looks Like A Seriously Sleazy Side Hustle

On Friday night, MSNBC host Chris Hayes explained why Sen. Ted Cruz’s thrice-weekly podcast “appears to be a serious ethical and campaign-finance scandal in the making.”

First, Hayes pointed out that recording three podcast episodes a week is a big chunk of time away from what is supposed to be Cruz’s full-time job: representing and serving the second-most populous state in the country. That’s in addition to being in the middle of a somewhat tight race for re-election.

But the much bigger stink is how it looks like Cruz is covering up – in cahoots with iHeartRadio – all the dough he’s getting.

HAYES: Back in 2022, Cruz partnered with iHeartRadio, the number one syndicator of U.S. radio programming, reaching 245 million people each month. iHeart would bankroll the whole operation, although Cruz aides and iHeartRadio executives didn’t provide details of the deal, including how much Cruz will be paid for the rights to the podcast. That was a murky but important issue, considering the Senate’s strict rules on outside employment. You can’t just, like, have another job; there are whole pages about this in the Senate Code of Conduct.

So how do you get around that? As we recently learned, you pay Ted Cruz’s super PAC, rather than Ted Cruz, himself. As The Dallas Morning News explains, since March of 2023, the pro-Cruz Truth and Courage super PAC has received a series of increasingly larger payments from iHeartMedia Management Services Inc. that total more than $630,000.00. That’s about a third of the total amount of money the PAC reports raising since the beginning of 2023.

A spokesperson from an iHeart subsidiary called Premiere Networks said in a statement that Cruz “volunteers his time to host the podcast and isn’t compensated for it.” She further explained they sell advertising time for the podcast and the money being directed to the Truth and Courage super PAC is, “associated with those advertising sales.”

Yeah, some volunteer gig.

Hayes went on to play a clip of Cruz getting quite defensive when he was confronted about this arrangement. No way to blame your daughters for this one, eh? Instead, Cruz claimed to be “sad” over “what has happened to the media.” You know, the media that dares to question the behavior of a public official in what looks a lot like a crime. Well, I guess if your last name isn’t Biden or have a “D” after it, crimes don’t count in MAGA world!

But they still count for the rest of us and in the law. Independent super PACS are not allowed to coordinate with candidates or their campaigns, Hayes said, citing a campaign finance lawyer. Also, there are limits to how much money candidates can receive from super PACS and are prohibited from soliciting corporate donations to them.

“It’s hard to see how Ted Cruz’s thrice weekly podcast, owned and produced by his super PAC, which takes in hundreds of thousands of dollars from it, does not constitute coordination or soliciting donations,” Hayes added.

Fortunately, the Campaign Legal Center sees it the same way. It has filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee and the FEC asking both bodies to investigate.

Texans, I hope you’re paying attention and ready to vote in November!

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