Nonpartisan organization Campaign Legal Center lodged the complaint to the Senate Ethics Committee complete with evidence in an attempt to open an investigation against the Texas senator. This comes after Cruz and co-host Michael Knowles openly discussed an offer from iHeartMedia to “fund production [and] dump a whole bunch of money into marketing” during the Oct. 7 episode of the Verdict podcast.
Cruz serves on the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which has received lobbying from iHeartMedia about two bills surrounding the Federal Communications Commission. iHeartMedia has also contributed $2,000 toward Cruz’s campaign, spending a total of $3,410,000 in lobbying efforts this year.
There is a rule of the Senate forbidding senators from receiving “any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value … includ[ing] gifts of services” from a lobbyist so that they can “exercise impartial judgement in performing their duties.” The Campaign Legal Center has filed the complaint for the Ethics Committee to determine whether Cruz has violated this rule while also acknowledging that according to Cruz’s financial disclosure forms, he has not made any income via the podcast since its inception in 2020.
The committee is led by Democratic Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and has the potential to find Cruz in violation of not only the rules of the Senate but the Lobby Disclosure Act, which, if a violation is found, can result in a fine of up to $200,000 and a five-year prison term.
Cruz did not respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.