Lawyers for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas likened the Republican to the civil rights icon Rosa Parks in a court filing over $10,000 they believe he's owed. Cruz is suing the Federal Elections Commission over a campaign finance law that he claims prevents him from receiving money he loaned to his campaign last year against Beto O'Rourke.
The lawsuit targets a rule that says campaigns can't spend more than $250,000 in contributions after an election to pay back a candidate's personal loan to his own campaign. According to the lawsuit, Cruz took out $260,000 in loans for his Senate re-election campaign the day before the election. Due to the finance limits, that means the Texas senator is still owed $10,000, his lawyers say.
The FEC has said Cruz's cash problem is "self-inflicted" because his campaign raised $2.2 million before the election, and could have used some of that money to repay him. That comment sparked the Parks comparison.
"The FEC also asserts that Senator Cruz and the Cruz Committee inflicted their injuries on themselves because they could have arranged to repay the Senator's loans using pre-election funds," Cruz's legal team wrote in a memo filed last week. "Yes, and Rosa Parks could have sat in the back of the bus. FEC's argument essentially faults Plaintiffs for not forfeiting the very constitutional right they seek to vindicate in this litigation."
Parks was arrested in 1955 for refusing to sit in the "colored" section in the back of a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her act of resistance made her an important figure in the civil rights movement and helped spark the Montgomery bus boycott.
Cruz's lawsuit claims that the campaign finance restriction violates First Amendment rights "by limiting the time period in which the candidate may raise money to communicate his or her political message." The campaign finance tracker Open Secrets says eliminating this rule would give lobbyists and special interests more power in elections, since candidates would be able to raise unlimited funds to repay their campaign debts.
Cruz had an estimated net worth of nearly $3.8 million in 2015, the most recent year for available data, according to Open Secrets.
The FEC alleged that Cruz took the loan out right before the election for the express purpose of creating a challenge to the funding rule.