Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said some very bizarre things on Tuesday as he and his colleagues debated the Democracy for All amendment, which would overturn the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision and allow Congress to again regulate campaign spending. Some of these statements were so off base, or just factually wrong, that we need to set the record straight:
CRUZ: The Democracy for All amendment would restrict the “NAACP from speaking about politics”
Actually, the NAACP supports the Democracy for All amendment, recently noting in a press release that “big money is the main reason Congress is increasingly out of step with the interests of everyday Americans.” It is odd to see Sen. Cruz align himself with the NAACP, considering his opposition to high-profile legislation that would benefit people of color, including restoring the Voting Rights Act and raising the minimum wage.
CRUZ: The Democracy for All amendment “would give Congress the power to ban movies and books”
“The Amendment does nothing of that sort,” says Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law and one of the nation’s foremost constitutional scholars.
CRUZ: The Koch Brothers Don’t Spend That Much, They Are Only Number “59”
First, if Cruz is using the Center for Responsive Politics’ data he cites, Koch Industries is actually number 58 on the list of top political contributors since 1989. But that’s not really the point. The listings cover only disclosed spending. The Koch network’s undisclosed spending is astronomical; their secret Koch network of mostly anonymous donors reportedly plans to spend $300 million on the 2014 election alone. This is nearly three times the amount that Act Blue, a Democrat-aligned network that is the top spender on the list Cruz used, has spent over 25 years’ worth of political contributions.
CRUZ: Supporters of the Democracy for All amendment are “abandoning civil liberties”
The truth is that just this week, six prominent civil liberties experts -- all former leaders of the ACLU -- wrote to members of the U.S. Senate denouncing the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions and noting that Congress can regulate campaign spending without interfering with First Amendment rights.
CRUZ: SNL writers & cast members “could be put in jail” because of the Democracy for All amendment
This may be Sen. Cruz’s most bizarre argument. The proposed amendment permits Congress to put limits on the raising and spending of campaign money. It wouldn’t put anyone in jail. Interestingly, its vocal supporters include Sen. Al Franken, a former Saturday Night Live cast member, who has called Citizens United “one of the worst decisions in the history of the Supreme Court.”
CRUZ: “Secret money” is not that big of a deal, because only “$315 Million” in dark money was spent in 2012
There are a couple major problems here. First, Senator Cruz is factually wrong. A lot more than $315 million was spent by groups that do not disclose their donors in the 2012 election cycle. In fact, the Koch network alone spent $400 million. Furthermore, even if the total was only $315 million, isn’t that still an outrage that needs to be addressed by Congress?
CRUZ: The Democracy for All amendment “could prohibit labor unions from organizing workers”
Cruz did not specifically argue this yesterday, but has in the past. The argument ignores the fact that most major labor unions, representing millions of workers across the country, have called on Congress to overturn Citizens United. The list includes the National Education Association (NEA), the Communication Workers of America (CWA), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) also opposes the Citizens United ruling and has testified to its disastrous effects, saying in 2010, "It’s not worth the couple of extra dollars we could spend—it’s not worth it to us to have voters’ voices completely silenced by corporations."