Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission (FEC), challenging part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, a.k.a. the McCain/Feingold Act.
Passed in 2002 and sponsored by Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold and the late Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, McCain/Feingold regulates campaign finance in the United States. Cruz’ lawsuit, Ted Cruz for Senate v. Federal Election Commission, specifically targets Section 304 of McCain/Feingold—which forbids candidates from paying themselves back with donor money that exceeds $250,000.
This isn’t the first time that part of McCain/Feingold has been challenged legally. In 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down parts of McCain/Feingold in the hotly debated case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission—equating, in effect, corporate spending with “speech.” And Cruz, in his lawsuit, describes Section 304 of McCain/Feingold as “precisely the sort of laws that the First Amendment was designed to prevent.”
In his lawsuit, Cruz complains that Section 304 “restricts the political speech of candidates and their campaign committees by limiting the time period in which the candidate may raise money to communicate his or her political message and by effectively limiting the candidate’s ability to lend the campaign necessary funds.”
In response to the lawsuit, Brendan Fischer (director of the Campaign Legal Center) asserted that “Ted Cruz is suing because (he) wants to take money from wealthy donors and put it directly into his pocket.”
Cruz won a second term in the U.S. Senate in 2018, when his reelection campaign proved to be much tougher than the far-right Texas Republican originally thought it would be. Texas has been very GOP-leaning in statewide races, yet Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke (who is running for president in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary) lost to Cruz by only 2.5%. And Cruz was so fearful of O’Rourke winning that he implored President Donald Trump—his bitter rival in the 2016 GOP presidential primary—to visit Texas and campaign on his behalf.