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Chris Hayes Questions if iHeartMedia is Breaking Campaign Finance Laws with Ted Cruz Podcast

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) drops three episodes per week of hisVerdict podcast with iHeartMedia. MSNBC host Chris Hayes is questioning the morality, and more importantly the legality, of the arrangement.

On All In with Chris Hayes, the MSNBC host began the topic by joking that Cruz “seems to have one foot out the door of the U.S. Senate,” due to his podcasting efforts. He continued by questioning whether iHeartMedia was complicit in breaking campaign finance laws with its business relationship with the Texas Senator.

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“Now, beyond the weirdness of devoting so much of his time to his side hustle, Cruz’s podcasting habit raises some serious ethical and legal questions. Who is actually producing the program and what is happening to the money it generates? We have some fascinating new answers,” said Hayes.

“Back in 2022, Cruz partnered with iHeartRadio — the number one syndicator of US radio programming, reaching 245 million people each month. iHeart would bankroll the whole operation, although Cruz aides and iHeart executives didn’t provide details of the deal, including how much Cruz will be paid for the rights to the podcast. That was a murky but important issue, considering the Senate’s strict rules on outside employment. You can’t just like have another job. There are a whole pages about this in the Senate code of conduct. So how do you get around that? As we recently learned, you pay Ted Cruz’s super PAC rather than Ted Cruz himself.”

Reporting from The Dallas Morning News alleges a political action committee — the Truth and Courage PAC — has received more than $630,000 in payments from iHeartMedia Management Services Inc., which is more than a third of the money raised by the PAC since the start of last year.

A spokesperson for Premiere Networks — an iHeartMedia subsidy — that the Senator “volunteers his time and isn’t compensated” for the program. However, the company freely admitted it sells advertising for the podcast, with the proceeds going to fund the PAC.

While defending himself, Cruz said it’s “sad what has happened to the media”, arguing The Dallas Morning News is a “left-wing, Democrat attack group.”

Chris Hayes called Cruz “touchy” for the defense, noting that he understands why the Seantor would be defensive because the arrangement “may very well violate election law.”

PACs are forbidden from coordinating with candidates and their campaigns. Additionally, campaigns are limited in how much money they can solicit from the groups. Hayes, however, argues that there’s a clear coordination between Ted Cruz, iHeartMedia, and the Truth and Courage PAC.

“Not only is Ted Cruz’s podcasting habit weird, I think it’s a little insulting to the 30 million Texans he represents, presumably full-time,” Hayes concluded. “It also appears to be a serious ethical and campaign finance scandal in the making.”

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