To compete with his frenemy Donald Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has hit upon an old, if dubious, campaign strategy: Lie, cheat, and steal his way to victory.
In what is becoming a pattern with the Tea Party conservative, Cruz has yet again sent election officials scrambling to their rulebooks.
Desperate for money to fund his campaign, Cruz told supporters that a group of super-secret “mega-donors” had personally promised him that they would match ALL of Ted’s donations dollar-for-dollar within the next 48 hours. Cruz begged for people to join on this campaign buy one, get one.
I just got off the phone with a few very generous supporters who – after our big win in Iowa last night – have pledged huge support for my campaign.
For the next 48 hours, these most generous supporters have agreed to match all online donations to my campaign made through the link below.
If that sounds like a scam you might find floating between your most gullible Facebook friends, that’s because it just might be.
The problem, as The Intercept was quick to point out, was that either Cruz is lying or breaking the law. Pick your poison, Ted.
Campaign finance experts, however, say there’s no way Cruz could be doing exactly what he promised without violating the law. That’s because there’s no way “a few very generous supporters” could legally be matching a large number of contributions to the campaign.
The operative rule is that individual donations to campaigns are legally capped. “If this money is going to his campaign, any one of those donors can only give a maximum of $2,700 [per cycle] including any money they have given before,” said Fred Wertheimer, a campaign finance expert at Democracy 21.
In other words, rich donors and poor donors can only donate up to a certain amount. So what’s a mega-donor to do? That’s where Super PACs come in. But here’s the thing: Cruz can’t coordinate with his Super PACS without breaking the law. So how can he be instructing his rich friends to match his campaign contributions?
The other option, of course, is that Ted Cruz is lying. There are no super-secret mega-donors. Cruz just wants to get people running for their checkbooks. This is a pretty strong possibility because blatantly spreading falsehoods is absolutely in Cruz’s wheelhouse.
Cruz has been fairly open about running a dishonest campaign from the very beginning. Already reviled by Democrats and Republicans alike, the only way he has managed to get a leg up has been through deceit and pandering. In Iowa, Cruz’s propensity for sliminess came to a head when his campaign sent out fliers telling voters they had committed “Voting Violations” and – on the night of the caucus – maliciously spreading false rumors that Ben Carson, one of Cruz’s biggest rivals, had suddenly dropped out.
Is it so hard to imagine that Cruz would lie to the very people who support him in order to trick them into giving him more money? Sadly, it’s completely believable.
Feature image via Flickr