Legal Battles

In Campaign Finance Flap, Ted Cruz’s Lawyers Compare Him to Rosa Parks

Ted Cruz, whose mere presence screams "civil rights icon"
Ted Cruz, whose mere presence screams "civil rights icon" Gage Skidmore
It took a little digging through federal court documents and a helpful tweet pointing us in the right direction, but the Observer had the distinct pleasure of witnessing the origin story of Texas' newest civil rights icon Monday. Turns out, he's been sitting right in front of us the whole time. His name is Sen. Ted Cruz, and he's just like Rosa Parks.

At least that's what the Houston native's Friday court filing in his ongoing campaign finance lawsuit would have us believe.

Broken down to its simplest terms, Cruz's suit challenges a federal law that bans candidates from raising more than $250,000 after an election to repay loans given to an election campaign by the candidate running. The law is intended to do two things: to prevent very wealthy candidates from loaning their campaign exorbitant sums, only to be paid back piecemeal months, years and decades after the election, and to stop what are essentially large cash transfers between donors and candidates.

According to Cruz, who loaned and took out loans worth $260,000 for his 2018 Senate campaign, his being unable to get that last $10,000 back is the equivalent to Parks being forced to sit at the back of the bus.

"Yes, and Rosa Parks could have sat in the back of the bus." — Ted Cruz, in his latest legal filing

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"The (Federal Elections Commission) also asserts that Senator Cruz and the Cruz Committee inflicted their injuries on themselves because they could have arranged to repay the Senator’s loans using pre-election funds," Cruz lawyers write, challenging the government's argument that Cruz should have just paid himself back before the election. "Yes, and Rosa Parks could have sat in the back of the bus."

Unlike Parks, campaign finance law experts believe Cruz is going to lose his fight, however noble it might be.

Adav Noti, the chief of staff at the Campaign Legal Center, handicapped Cruz's chances earlier this year.

"(Cruz) is going to pay his lawyers quite a bit, and his likelihood of success is not high," Noti said. "This provision is really just a standalone implementation of some pretty basic principles, like we don't want donors putting money into candidates' pockets. I think he's unlikely to win, and even if he does, I don't think it would mean too much in the way of ramification for campaign finance generally."

Maybe if he loses, the state will give him a participation trophy. Texas sure does like building them for other losers.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young