Washington

Cruz wins $10K case against FEC; court strikes down limit on campaigns repaying candidates


Sen. Ted Cruz has won his federal lawsuit against the Federal Elections Commission that struck down a limit on the amount of money a campaign can repay to a candidate who makes a personal loan to his election effort.

Mr. Cruz filed the lawsuit after the $250,000 cap prevented him from receiving a full repayment for his $260,000 loan to his 2018 reelection campaign.

“Protections for political speech extend to campaign financing because effective speech requires spending money,” wrote the three-judge panel for the D.C. U.S. District Court on Thursday.

Mr. Cruz, Texas Republican, filed the lawsuit challenging Section 304 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 that banned candidates from repaying personal loans of more than $250,000 from post-election contributions out of their campaign.

After Mr. Cruz won reelection, his campaign paid back its debts, but Mr. Cruz only got $250,000 due to the cap.

He sued to get the $10,000 balance and for the court to rule Section 304 unconstitutional.

The senator argued that the campaign finance limit violated the First Amendment.

The FEC argued the limit doesn’t burden speech and is aimed at combating corruption.

The three-judge panel sided with the senator and struck down the cap.

“We find the loan-repayment limit burdens political speech and thus implicates the protection of the First Amendment,” the opinion read.

The ruling was unanimous and came from a panel composed of two Trump appointees and one Obama appointee.

A three-judge panel, rather than a single judge, oversaw the case at the district court level as is required in campaign finance cases.

A spokesperson for Mr. Cruz said the unanimous ruling was a “resounding victory” for the First Amendment. 

“The existing FEC rules benefited incumbent politicians and the super wealthy and they made it harder for challengers to run, and the court rightly struck them down as unconstitutional,” the spokesperson said.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the ruling or if the government will appeal.

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