When Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, bailed out for the balmy climes of Cancún whereas the worst winter storm in latest reminiscence stranded thousands and thousands of his constituents with out energy, he employed a safety guard to observe his residence and take care of his poodle, Snowflake. However the best way the senator selected to pay for that assist could appeal to the eye of the Federal Election Fee, which has not sanctioned using marketing campaign funds for private safety.
Cruz seems to have tapped into each marketing campaign funds and his taxpayer-backed Senate allowance for safety bills, a few of them associated to journey. The FEC bars candidates and elected officers from utilizing political contributions for their very own private use, and Cruz could have violated this rule if he used donations to pay for a safety guard for his Houston residence or at different instances outdoors his capacities as a candidate or officeholder. It might additionally seem like a violation of the non-public use prohibition if Cruz dipped into his marketing campaign account to pay the guard to do family chores, similar to caring for Snowflake. Final yr, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo triggered an inner investigation for the same alleged misuse of taxpayer funds, similar to paying an aide to stroll his canine.
Salon reported earlier this month that within the wake of the Capitol rebellion, the 2 Republican nationwide congressional committees filed a joint advisory ruling request asking the FEC to permit lawmakers to fund private safety particulars with marketing campaign donations, however the situation is unsettled. Whereas candidates can and do expense digital safety techniques for his or her properties, the FEC has not dominated on whether or not the exemption extends to bodyguards.
A handful of candidates, together with Cruz, seem to have gone forward with out FEC steering. In October 2020, the senator’s marketing campaign group, Ted Cruz for Senate, began paying the Houston safety agency Atlas Glinn Inc. for “personnel service/gear,” based on FEC filings. The Atlas Glinn web site features a photo of Cruz accompanied by what seems to be a safety workforce. Within the three months from October to December, the marketing campaign paid the agency a complete of $46,000, based on federal data.
Along with residence safety, Cruz’s marketing campaign additionally spent greater than $15,000 within the final 4 months on what it characterizes in filings as “safety gear set up”: $11,000 to Houston-based Automation Media Professionals, and $4,000 to Solar X Window Film Systems, additionally in Houston, for “tear and penetration-resistant” protective window film designed to carry “glass fragments collectively within the occasion of an accident, break-in or violent storm.” Cruz and his household stay in Houston, which additionally hosts his southeast Texas workplace.
The overwhelming majority of those funds got here after the 2020 normal election, which Cruz predicted could possibly be a “massacre” for Republicans. The Harvard Legislation graduate was among the first and most ardent peddlers of former President Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud, a number one voice in a broader narrative that led on to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters. Cruz was contained in the Senate chamber when that assault started, objecting to Electoral School votes, and used the occasion to raise campaign funds.
In justifying the emergency nature of the FEC request final month, attorneys for the Nationwide Republican Senatorial Committee and Nationwide Republican Congressional Committee cited the alarming spike in safety threats related to the Jan. 6 riots.
“In gentle of present occasions involving concrete threats of bodily violence in opposition to Members and their households, Members have been compelled to contemplate additional safety measures for themselves and their households,” the committees wrote. “As has been well-documented within the media, Members and their households proceed to endure threats and safety breaches, that are being well timed reported to applicable legislation enforcement officers.”
Cruz has additionally paid his former bodyguard out of his marketing campaign and Senate accounts. FEC filings present that in 2019, Ted Cruz for Senate issued a $5,000 fee to Air France for “safety bills,” and paid greater than $3,000 to Matthew “Grant” Murray, apparently for offering safety for Cruz whereas he was touring.
Murray at the moment works for Cruz’s Senate workplace: His LinkedIn profile says he’s a “Particular Operations Advisor to the U.S. Senate,” and earlier than that he served as regional deputy director for southeast Texas, a job he took in November 2016 after briefly heading up security for Cruz’s ill-fated 2016 presidential marketing campaign. Earlier than that, Murray was director of operations for 360 Group International Inc, a private safety agency that describes itself as offering govt safety, safety consulting and risk evaluation companies to VIPs, corporations and authorities businesses.
Since 2016, Murray has made six figures a yr as a full-time Senate worker, based on LegiStorm information, and in 2018 he seems to have made $50,000 on the payroll for Cruz’s re-election marketing campaign. The Cruz marketing campaign has additionally paid Murray greater than $10,000 for journey and per diem bills, based on marketing campaign data.
In 2018 Murray accompanied Cruz in his official Senate capability on a federally funded trip to Israel, and in 2019 the marketing campaign paid a safety invoice to the full-time Senate aide forward of an Indo-Pacific tour that Cruz seems to have taken in his authorities capability.
Filings additionally point out that the marketing campaign reimbursed Murray for “supplies” associated to a 2019 journey orchestrated by a journey company referred to as Tradition Journey GMBH. In response to its LinkedIn web page, Tradition Journey is “Germany’s main, luxurious journey planner” and affords “entry to the inaccessible: non-public properties and collections, unique wine tastings & culinary occasions with grasp sommeliers and star cooks, curator walks via extraordinary museum treasures and essentially the most fabulous workforce of professional/guides out there.” The corporate says that it makes a speciality of customized small-group excursions all through Germany, and affords “hand-selected” drivers and guides in addition to “Shore Excursions.”
Salon couldn’t discover experiences that Cruz traveled to Germany in 2019, in any capability, however his marketing campaign had logged that $5,000 fee to Air France for “safety bills” only a few months prior. If Cruz did certainly take pleasure in a luxurious getaway — for which latest occasions recommend he has a style — it is not clear that Germany impressed him: A number of months later he crossed the aisle in an try to block the construction of a pipeline that might reroute Russian gasoline beneath the Baltic Sea to a German port, threatening additional sanctions in opposition to Russia if the nations went forward with the undertaking, though it was backed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an essential U.S. ally. Almost a yr earlier, in January 2018, Cruz had rejected bipartisan requires stricter sanctions on Russia in a decision that failed within the Senate by three votes.
This week, Cruz urged the Biden administration to chop assist for the Russian gasoline pipeline, saying that it may have “critical penalties for the nationwide safety of America and the power safety of our European allies.”
It doesn’t seem that Cruz enlisted a private element on his latest however temporary vacation in Cancún. The Houston Police Division offered personnel help and “monitored his actions” after Cruz’s employees requested a legislation enforcement “help upon arrival” on the airport, The New York Occasions reported. Video captured Houston officers accompanying the senator when he returned the following morning, when Cruz issued an announcement saying he had taken the journey beneath catastrophe situations as a result of he wished “to be a very good dad.”
“With college canceled for the week, our women requested to make a journey with associates. Desirous to be a very good dad, I flew down with them final night time and am flying again this afternoon,” the assertion mentioned. “My employees and I are in fixed communication with state and native leaders to unravel what occurred in Texas. We would like our energy again, our water on, and our properties heat. My workforce and I’ll proceed utilizing all our assets to maintain Texans knowledgeable and secure.”
The Cruz marketing campaign didn’t instantly reply to Salon’s request for remark.