FEC fines Ted Cruz’s Senate campaign for failing to disclose loans

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign is paying a $35,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission for failing to accurately report more than $1 million in loans that helped underwrite his first Senate bid.

The federal election watchdog found that Cruz used a line of credit from Citibank and borrowed against the Goldman Sachs brokerage account he held with his wife to come up with $1.06 million for his 2012 campaign. Campaign officials inaccurately described the money in Federal Election Commission filings as coming from Cruz’s personal funds, according to an agreement between federal regulators and the Cruz campaign posted online Friday by the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center.

“Candidates should take seriously their legal requirement to disclose where their campaign money comes from,” said Tara Malloy, a top lawyer for the Campaign Legal Center, in a statement. “Today’s announcement is an acknowledgment that Cruz’s campaign deprived voters of that critical information.”

The fine disclosed Friday stems from a complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center and another watchdog group, Democracy 21.

Aides to Cruz did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

The Cruz case and penalty are far less significant than other violations the FEC has recently handled. Earlier this week, for instance, the agency levied a nearly $1 million fine against a super PAC supporting Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign and a Chinese-owned corporation after concluding they broke the law barring foreign interference in US elections.

The Federal Election Commission reviews dozens of complaints each year. Last year, it reached so-called “conciliation” agreements in 19 cases with an average fine of $29,747, according to the agency’s data.

The commission’s staff did not find evidence that the actions of Cruz’s campaign amounted to a willful attempt to break campaign disclosure laws.

Cruz faced scrutiny about the source of the money during his 2016 bid for the Republican presidential nomination. In a 2013 New York Times article, for instance, he described how he and his wife Heidi agreed to “liquidate our entire net worth” to plow more than $1 million into the 2012 battle for his Senate seat.

But, as The New York Times reported in 2016, separate personal financial disclosure reports Cruz filed after the 2012 election with the Senate did not show he liquidated assets. Instead, they reflected the loans from Goldman Sachs and Citibank.

The day after the New York Times story, Cruz’s campaign filed a memo with the Federal Election Commission, saying the loans had been “inadvertently omitted” from its earlier filings with the agency.

In addition to the fine, Cruz’s campaign agreed to amend its FEC filings to reflect the loans.