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Maddow Blog | Questions surrounding Ted Cruz’s podcast spark FEC complaint

In World
April 10, 2024

It’s no secret that Sen. Ted Cruz has a special affection for his podcast. His 2024 rival, Democratic Rep. Colin Allred, told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell last year, “He’s honestly busier being a podcaster — which he does three times a week — than actually being a senator.”

But the problem with the Texas Republican’s media project isn’t just the amount of time he spends behind a microphone. As The Texas Tribune reported, Cruz is also now facing a campaign finance complaint “over money sent from the company that syndicates his podcast to a political action committee supporting his re-election bid.”

This is a story with a few moving parts, but stick with me for a minute, because this appears to be a story with real potential.

As my MSNBC colleague Ja’han Jones noted last week, Cruz receives a generous salary as a sitting U.S. senator, but the Texan insists that his work as a podcast host is unpaid. By all appearances, that’s true: While a media company called iHeartMedia has a deal with the Republican to produce, market, and syndicate his podcast to hundreds of radio stations, Cruz does not receive financial compensation from the company directly.

But — and you had to know a “but” was coming — The Houston Chronicle recently noted that while iHeartMedia hasn’t sent any checks to the senator for his work, the media company has sent $630,850 to something called the Truth and Courage PAC.

And what’s the Truth and Courage PAC? It’s the super PAC supporting Cruz’s re-election campaign.

In other words, iHeartMedia isn’t paying the Republican senator, but it has made generous contributions to a super PAC backing the Republican senator ahead of his bid for a third term.

It doesn’t help matters that Cruz is the ranking member on the Senate committee that oversees regulations of the public airwaves, and he appears to have taken an interest in protecting AM radio. iHeartMedia, meanwhile, owns hundreds of AM radio stations.

Complicating matters further, The Washington Post flagged a quote from an iHeartMedia spokesperson, who told Forbes last month that Cruz does not get paid for the podcast, but the company sells advertising on the podcast and the super PAC donations are “associated with those advertising sales.”

The GOP senator recently described questions surrounding this burgeoning controversy as “left-wing Democrat [sic] attacks.” I don’t imagine we’ve heard the last of this one.

This article was originally published on MSNBC.com

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