U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Senator Cruz’s Campaign Funding Challenge
September 30 (Reuters) – The United States Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear the Federal Election Commission’s proposal to reinstate a campaign finance law that caps the amount candidates can be repaid for personal loans granted to their campaigns as part of a challenge brought by Republican Senator Ted Cruz.
The administration of Democratic President Joe Biden, acting on behalf of the FEC, appealed a lower court ruling that found the cap violated the United States Constitution’s First Amendment freedom of speech guarantee by unduly weighing on political expression.
The case concerns a provision in a campaign finance law of 2002 that limits the amount of money candidates can accept from donors after an election as they attempt to recover the money they personally have. loaned to their official campaign organizations.
The measure – which is part of the bipartisan campaign reform law – places a cap of $ 250,000 on payments from donations made after an election, even if candidates have made loans in excess of that amount.
Cruz sued the FEC, challenging the constitutionality of the law the agency enforces, after his successful run for Senate re-election in 2018 in Texas against Democratic rival Beto O’Rourke. Cruz had loaned $ 260,000 to his campaign organization but was limited by law to a reimbursement of $ 250,000 from his campaign.
The commission said the law reduced so-called quid pro quo corruption – a Latin phrase meaning a favor for a favor – and the appearance of corruption by limiting the amount of money candidates can ask for after an election for pay off campaign debt.
Cruz’s spokesperson Steve Guest praised the court’s decision to hear the case.
“The existing FEC rules benefit incumbent politicians and the very wealthy by making it harder for challengers to run for office,” Guest said.
Campaign finance watchdogs said the practice at issue in the case raises donors’ expectations for official favors.
“What should worry all voters here is the simple fact that funds raised after the date of an election are not the same as typical campaign funds – they pose a much higher risk of corruption,” said Paul Smith, lawyer in the campaign’s legal department. Center.
“These funds can functionally serve as a personal gift to the candidate from sources voters might disapprove of or from a donor with a more apparent consideration,” Smith added.
In June, a panel of three Washington-based federal judges unanimously overturned the refund as unconstitutional, calling the government’s arguments over the abuse of influence hypothetical.
The administration warned of an “increased risk of real and apparent corruption in consideration” and said Cruz did not have the appropriate legal capacity to pursue the case because the loan and repayment were expressly made in the aim to challenge the law in court.
Cruz, who unsuccessfully sought his party’s presidential nomination in 2016 and later became a prominent supporter of former President Donald Trump, was first elected to represent Texas in the US Senate in 2012.
The judges begin their new nine-month term on Monday. The Cruz case will be heard in early 2022 and a decision is due by the end of June.
Report by Andrew Chung in New York; Editing by Will Dunham