Does anyone actually want to buy Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz's book?
That's one question being asked now that the Texas Republican Senator's financial disclosures are being reviewed.
Recently released findings from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) suggest Cruz's campaign spent $153,000 at Books-a-Million on copies of his book, One Vote Away: How a Single Supreme Court Seat Can Change History, for which he was paid a $320,000 advance by his publisher.
Although the FEC's findings do not explicitly state Cruz's campaign spent money on his book, the timing of the purchases is suspect.
Cruz's book was published on Sept. 29, 2020.
The Cruz committee's 2020 year-end report shows that two weeks later, on October 15, they spent $40,000 on "books." The next week, Cruz's book ranked #9 on the New York Times Bestseller list.
And on October 30, the campaign spent another $11,900 on "books" only for Cruz's book to again appear on the New York Times Bestseller List, this time ranked #5.
The campaign again spent money on "books" on December 1—to the tune of $111,900—but Cruz's book did not make the list that week given it was the same week former President Barack Obama, singer Dolly Parton and actor Michael J. Fox released memoirs.
Cruz reportedly has other ways of pocketing royalties related to the sale of his book .
His Senate website offers autographed copies of his book to anyone who donates $77 to his campaign. It is technically not illegal for United States Senators to buy their own books using campaign funds.
According to an FEC advisory on the matter, the royalties from those purchases must be given to charity:
"A campaign committee may incur costs to promote the candidate's book without violating the ban on personal use of campaign funds because the candidate will donate all royalties to charity."
A spokesman for Cruz said Cruz "has not received one cent of royalties," though they did not specify which books had been purchased.
The government watchdog group Citizens for Ethics in Washington (CREW) is not convinced.
Nor are the denizens of social media, who lambasted the Senator for what they say amounts to corruption.
This isn't the first time Cruz's book made national headlines regarding campaign finance rules.
In May, the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) accused Cruz of breaking the law by illegally promoting his book with campaign funds.
The organization said Cruz spent up to $18,000 in late 2020 on Facebook advertisements including links urging viewers to buy copies of his book from third-party online booksellers.
CLC also addressed Cruz's violations in a letter to the Senate Ethics Committee, arguing:
"when elected officials use campaign contributions to advance their personal bottom lines, they compromise the integrity of the political process and undermine the public's trust that their political contributions are being used legally—for campaign purposes or in connection with the officeholder's duties, not to line the officeholder's pockets."
It went on to say Cruz had "violated core principles of accountable government by using campaign funds to promote the sale of his book."