San Antonio’s iHeartMedia gave another $156,000 to Ted Cruz-linked super PAC

To date, the controversial arrangement has pumped $786,000 into a super PAC whose primary goal is to see Cruz is reelected.

click to enlarge U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during an event for young conservatives in Tampa, Florida. - Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore
Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during an event for young conservatives in Tampa, Florida.
As much as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, wants the media to stop reporting on the controversial deal he inked for distribution of his podcast, federal filings continue to shine light on just how much cash it's raking in for his reelection efforts.

A super PAC that lists its primary goal as helping Cruz win a third term has reaped another $156,186 in revenue from a deal San Antonio-based iHeartMedia struck to distribute the senator's The Verdict With Ted Cruz podcast, new Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings show.

Since reaching the deal in late 2022, radio group iHeartMedia has now funneled a total of $786,000 into the coffers of the Cruz-linked Truth and Courage PAC. A spokeswoman for the company described the payments as being "associated with" ad sales on the podcast.

Cruz has faced intense scrutiny over that arrangement. Critics argue the pact is structured to skirt federal campaign contribution laws, and experts also have raised questions about whether it will prompt an investigation by the IRS.

In April, two watchdog groups asked the FEC to review the legality of the distribution deal. The filing by the Campaign Legal Center and End Citizens United argues that, by appearances, the senator directed iHeartMedia to flow corporate dollars to Truth and Courage in violation of federal law.

Super PACs can accept direct corporate donations under existing campaign finance rules, but federal candidates can't "solicit, receive, direct, transfer, or spend funds" on behalf of those fundraising entities.

“This type of funding risks putting the priorities of wealthy special interests above everyone else and makes our political process more vulnerable to corruption,” Campaign Legal Center Senior Director of Campaign Finance Erin Chlopak told the Current in April.

The Cruz camp continues to say the deal is above board because the senator makes no direct money from The Verdict, which airs three times a week. Even so, during a session of the podcast, Cruz himself described his deal with iHeartMedia, which has 850 stations nationwide, as a “big damn deal.”

How big? For now we'll have to rely on the senator's hyperbole.

With interest building in the podcast deal's murky details, the senator in April requested a delay in making a significant federal financial filing that could shine light on its structure.

Cruz filed for a three-month extension to submit his U.S. Senate Financial Disclosures for the 2023 calendar year, which would have been due May 15. The extension gives him until Aug. 13 to file the paperwork — a when Congress is likely to be on recess and many Capitol Hill reporters take vacations, according to observers. 

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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