Spending campaign funds on the candidate’s book may violate campaign-finance rules
The campaign for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) spent more than $153,000 at Books-a-Million in the three months after his newest publication was released. The expenditures may violate campaign-finance law according to an attorney practicing in that field.
Cruz’s latest book, “One Vote Away: How a Single Supreme Court Seat Can Change History” was published by Regnery on Sept. 29, 2020 per Amazon.
Two weeks later, Cruz’s campaign spent $40,000 at Books-a-Million, according to a filing the committee submitted to the Federal Election Commission on Friday. On Oct. 30, the campaign made a second purchase from that merchant, this time for $1,517.38. And on Dec. 1, the campaign reported spending an additional $111,900 at Books-a-Million. For all three disbursements, the description simply said “Books.”
A candidate using campaign funds to purchase their own book may violate campaign finance law, an attorney specializing in that field told 1100 Pennsylvania citing an FEC advisory opinion from 2014.
“To do this legally, the Cruz campaign would have had to buy the books directly from the publisher—not Books-a-Million—and have any royalties Cruz would have earned on the sale given to charity,” said the attorney, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of their terms of employment.
While acknowledging their receipt, a spokesperson for Cruz has not yet answered 1100 Pennsylvania’s inquiries asking what books were bought, and, if the purchases did include Cruz’s book, why weren’t they made through the publisher and what’s the status of any royalties. Update 7:05 p.m., Feb. 1, 2021: A spokesperson for the senator has provided 1100 Pennsylvania with a one-sentence response, addressing just the last question: “Sen. Cruz has not made any royalties on ‘One Vote Away.’”
Update 7:55 p.m,., Feb 1, 2021: Per Cruz’s 2019 financial disclosure, his contract with Regnery called for him to receive a $400,000 advance as well as royalties.
Autographed copies of Cruz’s book are now available on the official Ted Cruz for Senate website in exchange for donations of at least $77. The offer is prominently featured in the nav bar of the website’s home page. (1100 Pennsylvania was unable to find the Cruz campaign advertising offers involving books by other authors.)
If the campaign’s Books-a-Million purchases did include Cruz’s book, it’d mean his campaign used donors’ money to purchase his publication, possibly to his financial benefit, and then used those books to solicit more contributions.
Any such maneuvers evoke the Republican National Committee’s purchases of Donald Trump Jr.’s books. In October 2019, the RNC paid Books-a-Million $94,800 for copies of the Trump Organization EVP’s book “Triggered,” reported Alexandra Alter and Nicholas Confessore for The New York Times. And the following year, the RNC dropped $303,000 on Don Jr.’s self-published follow-up “Liberal Privilege,” reported Lachlan Markay for The Daily Beast.
Beyond any possible financial benefits Cruz might have enjoyed from his campaign’s book purchases, they also could have buttressed his book’s standing on best-seller lists. Per “One Vote Away’s” Amazon page, it appeared on many of them.
House impeachment team investigating if Trump’s D.C. hotel is 2021’s version of Mary E. Surratt’s boarding house: Report
From “House Democrats building elaborate, emotionally charged case against Trump” by Mike DeBonis, Tom Hamburger, Karoun Demirjian, and Amy Gardner for The Washington Post [bold added]:
House Democrats are also investigating a gathering of Trump’s allies and family members at the Trump International Hotel in D.C. the evening before the insurrection at the Capitol.
Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. was among those who stopped by the gathering, according to the individual; former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski also confirmed that he was there, though he said he had no discussions about the following day’s planned rally. Trump Jr. declined to comment.
The gathering took place in what’s known as the Trump Townhouse, a two-story space available for rent, and was described by one person familiar with the event, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, as a small gathering of donors and other Trump allies to watch the returns in Georgia’s two Senate runoffs…
The article goes on to report that info about this event was of “medium” interest to the House impeachment team per one of its assistants.
As 1100 Pennsylvania reported last week, photos appeared to show Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) at the Trump Hotel D.C. on Jan. 5 as well, supporting posts from social-media users who’d claimed to attend the meeting.
Social-media posts that attorney and professor Seth Abramson and political analyst Cheri Jacobus obtained claimed that other attendees at the Jan. 5 Trump Hotel D.C. meeting included Eric Trump; former National Security Advisor and Trump pardon recipient Michael Flynn; Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani; White House Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro; 2016 Trump campaign deputy manager David Bossie; Trump Victory finance chair Kimberly Guilfoyle; GOP donor The MyPillow Guy (Michael Lindell); and the executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association, Adam Piper. Bossie said that while he was in D.C. on Jan. 5, he did not attend the meeting, reported Eddie Burkhalter for the Alabama Political Reporter.
Trump’s D.C. hotel, of course, was the setting for several episodes that featured prominently in his first impeachment.
The campaign for Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN) spent $1,551.40 on Dec. 3 for event catering at the head of the executive branch’s (and his brother’s boss’s) D.C. hotel. Pence’s campaign now has spent a total of $47,155.16 at the Trump Hotel D.C. It appears Pence may have lived at the hotel for a spell too, based on campaign filings first reported by Maureen Groppe for USA Today.
A glimpse of the foreign officials, government employees, politicians, lobbyists, and the like who patronize or appear at Trump businesses. Most people shown here have reasons to want to influence the former president, rely on his good graces for their livelihoods, or should have been providing oversight. Additionally, high-profile guests serve as draws for paying customers.
Just weeks after Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Donald J. Trump was responsible for the insurrection at the Capitol, the House Minority Leader called on the former president at his private resort.
Other Trump Organization news
Ivanka Trump reported $1.4 million in revenue during 2020 from her Trump Hotel D.C. stake in her financial disclosure, obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The figure is down from the approximately $4 million she reported each of the other three years she worked in the White House.
“Legal pressure on Trump increases with judge’s order in fraud inquiry” by Ed Shanahan and William K. Rashbaum for The New York Times
“Scottish Parliament to hold vote on Unexplained Wealth Order into Donald Trump’s finances” by Martyn McLaughlin for The Scotsman
“Florida town conducting legal review of Trump’s residency at Mar-a-Lago” by Randi Kaye, Devon M. Sayers and Caroline Kelly for CNN
“After the presidency, the Trump hotel in Washington is a limited draw” by Eric Lipton for The New York Times
In April, the RNC will host a donor retreat in Palm Beach, Florida—but not at Mar-a-Lago reported Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post.
“Here are the lies Trump is now telling about his business” by Dan Alexander for Forbes
On Jan. 27, Trump Organization EVP Donald Trump Jr. appeared to stop following the Twitter account @InstagramPorn after its suspension.
Links to rundowns of developments in the House’s investigations and lawsuits, reference sheets for some of 1100 Pennsylvania’s previous reporting, and articles that provide the background on why all of this matters. The date published or last updated is in parentheses.
House investigations (Dec. 20, 2020)
Lawsuits (Jan. 26, 2021)
Breakdown of judges’ rulings by political party of presidents who nominated them (July 13, 2020)
Health inspections (Oct. 6, 2020)
COVID-19 bailouts and charity (Nov. 30, 2020)
Notable hotel customers
Foreign governments with representatives spotted at the Trump Hotel D.C.: 33 (Sept. 22, 2020)
Trump cabinet members spotted at the Trump Hotel D.C.: 28 of 37 (Jan 21, 2021)
U.S. Senators who’ve supported the Trump Hotel D.C.: 35 of 65 Republicans, one Democrat (Jan. 21, 2021)
House Judiciary members who’ve supported the Trump Hotel D.C.: Seven of 17 Republicans, no Democrats (Sept. 25, 2020)
House Intelligence members who’ve supported the Trump Hotel D.C.: Four of eight Republicans, no Democrats (June 1, 2020)
House Oversight members who’ve supported the Trump Hotel D.C.: Nine of 17 Republicans, no Democrats (Aug. 2, 2020)
House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management who’ve supported the Trump Hotel D.C.: Four out of six Republicans, one Democrat (July 1, 2020)
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R–CA) found Trump’s hotels competitive only after Trump’s election (Sept. 12, 2019)
Rudy Giuliani at the Trump Hotel D.C: A retrospective (April 30, 2019)
“Stay to play: Inside the sordid history of Trump’s D.C. hotel—And why the president’s prized property could be headed for a reckoning” by your correspondent for Mother Jones (September 2020)
“Power tripping in the swamp: How Trump’s D.C. hotel swallowed Washington
The MAGA social scene is a movable feast, but its dark heart resides within the Old Post Office Building, where the Trump Org operates under a mercenary charter” by your correspondent for Vanity Fair (October 2019)
“Inside the world’s most controversial hotel: The hotel that was expected to take its place among the crown jewels of D.C.’s travel scene has become a magnet for protestors, a West Wing Annex, and—possibly—the center of a constitutional crisis.” by your correspondent for Condé Nast Traveler (May 2018)
Upcoming key dates
Sept. 23, 2019—House Judiciary Committee hearing “Presidential corruption: Emoluments and profiting off the presidency” (postponed, not yet rescheduled)
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