How can you tell when somebody is doing well in an election? One good clue is that the oppo files will be opened up and dumped onto the table for the media to sort through. I have to wonder how long somebody has been sitting on this story about Ted Cruz and his wife taking out a couple of loans for roughly one million dollars which he then allegedly dumped into his first Senate campaign in Texas. But Cruz himself doesn’t seem to be disputing that facts in evidence, so let’s get to it. (Washington Post)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) downplayed a report late Wednesday that he had not listed personal loans he and his wife received before donating roughly the same amount to his 2012 Senate campaign, calling the matter an “inadvertent filing question.”
“The facts of the underlying matter have been disclosed for many, many years,” he told reporters in Dorchester, S.C. “All of the information has been public and transparent for many years, and that’s the end of that.”
Cruz and his wife Heidi obtained two loans, the New York Times reported Wednesday: one from Goldman Sachs, and another from Citibank that totaled about $750,000. The amount later increased to $1 million before being paid down. Heidi Cruz is a managing director at Goldman Sachs, currently on leave while her husband runs for president.
The first question which leaps forward is whether or not Cruz actually broke the law in this instance, which would be a significant problem for him on the campaign trail. David Knowles at Bloomberg seems to imply that he might have, but the details are a bit fuzzy.
The loans weren’t disclosed in campaign finance reports at the time, the newspaper reported. Candidates are required to file paperwork showing loans used to pay for their campaigns. Heidi Cruz is on leave from her job as a managing director at Goldman Sachs.
Yes, campaign finance laws mandate the disclosure of all money going into a campaign’s coffers, including loans. But it looks like Cruz did declare all of the money going in. His family essentially liquidated all of their assets to fund the Senate bid and one part of that process was taking a standard margin loan against their brokerage account. I think the question here becomes one of whether there is a difference between a campaign receiving a loan directly from a lender or an individual (the candidate in this case) taking out a personal loan and then applying the money to the campaign. The reason there’s a distinction here is that in the case of a failed election bid, the former scenario leaves the campaign account on the hook for repaying the debt, but in the latter case the individual is in debt as with any other personal loan. Cruz has asked the FEC for a ruling on that and said that he will amend his filing if called for. That might be all that’s required to satisfy the bean counters even if there was a foot fault here, because there doesn’t seem to be any question as to whether the total amounts were reported or if the loans were paid back. (One loan is already paid in full and two others have balances of less than $100K and are being paid off.)
Perhaps far more so than any legal questions, the media is waiting to see if any political hay can be made of this. The timing is somewhat awkward since Cruz just finished talking about Donald Trump and his New York Values, and now a loan from, *gasp* Goldman Sachs pops up in Cruz’s past. Of course, since Mrs. Cruz is a GS employee I’m not sure how much of a shock to the system this will be for anyone.
Does this rip any sort of a hole in Cruz’s campaign? As I suggested above, there is little doubt that somebody has been sitting on this tidbit for a long time and they waited until a couple weeks before the Iowa caucuses (and the day before what is possibly Cruz’s most crucial debate since he’s neck and neck with Trump in Iowa) to let it drop. Nothing like this happens by accident in American politics so it’s obviously a carefully calculated attack intended to take Cruz down. But it’s just such a wonky question, with the worst likely outcome being a discovery that the Texas Senator’s books listed some money in column A rather than column B. Is anyone really going to care?
Either way, expect to hear about it from his opponents tonight and on the campaign trail for the next two weeks. And if Cruz does wind up being the nominee the Democrats will raise that specter again in the fall. But if that’s the worst they can dig up on him I have a sense that Ted Cruz is going to be just fine.