Supreme Court made a 'mockery' of campaign laws by siding with 'blatantly cynical' Ted Cruz: legal expert
US Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, speaks during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on "Review of the FY2023 State Department Budget Request," in Washington, DC, on April 26, 2022. (Al Drago / AFP / POOL)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) won a lawsuit this week against the Federal Election Commission in a U.S. Supreme Court decision that campaign finance watchdogs denounced as a "mockery" of the law.

The court's six conservative justices struck down a law that capped how much campaign cash a candidate could use to repay loans to their campaign, after Cruz sued to recoup exactly $10,000 he had loaned his campaign the day before the 2018 election, in a case that appears deliberately aimed at weakening the McCain-Feingold Act, reported The Daily Beast.

“The Supreme Court’s decision in the Cruz case is a victory for rich people and corporations who want to buy influence over elected officials," said Adav Noti, vice president of the Campaign Legal Center. "By letting big donors repay politicians’ personal loans, the Supreme Court has again sided with special interest money over the voters’ right to a fair and transparent campaign system."

Cruz loaned his campaign $260,000, just above the $250,000 repayment limit, ad then sued for the right to recover the extra $10,000 with money raised more than 20 days after the election, complaining the limit was a violation of his First Amendment rights, and the court agreed.

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“As the Supreme Court continues to make a mockery of its duty to protect voters’ rights,” Noti said, “Congress and the states have an opportunity to step up on behalf of Americans who want their voices heard in government but don’t have thousands of dollars to put in Sen. Cruz’s pocket as an entry fee.”

The ruling gives another advantage to wealthy candidates like Mehmet Oz or former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), who can now loan their campaigns millions of dollars with the expectation that megadonors will pay them back in full after the election -- and Justice Elena Kagan explained the danger in that her dissent.

“Political contributions that will line a candidate’s own pockets, given after his election to office, pose a special danger of corruption,” Kagan wrote, pointing out that election winners would be “in a position to give something in return.”

Cruz has been working for years to loosen campaign finance rules, which ethics experts says he openly and repeatedly flouts.

“Ted Cruz is perhaps the most cynical member of the Senate when it comes to this issue, perhaps only bested by Mitch McConnell,” said Steve Spaulding, senior counsel at good government group Common Cause, who recalled an interaction with the Texas Republican after a 2015 Senate hearing on dark money in elections.

“Cruz came down afterwards, and actually tried to pitch me on his idea of eliminating super PACs by allowing unlimited contributions directly to candidates," Spaulding said. "He was giving that argument with a straight face. The guy is so blatantly cynical and dangerous, but all of this really just shows you where he comes from on these issues.”