Ted Cruz Trolls the Campaign Finance Reformers

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 3 2014 4:34 PM

Ted Cruz Trolls the Campaign Finance Reformers

Right back at 'em.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

My piece about the growing Republican campaign to defend donors from campaign finance reform ended with a stirring speech from Sen. Ted Cruz to Southern conservative activists.

“This amendment specifically says that nothing in it will undermine the freedom of the press. So the New York Times is protected. You and me are not. If this amendment passed, Congress would have the authority to tell the NRA you cannot distribute voter guides telling people how politicians are voting on the Second Amendment. If this amendment passed, Congress would tell the Sierra Club you can’t run any ads talking about a candidate’s environmental record.
If this amendment were to pass, Congress would have the authority to tell Right to Life or Planned Parenthood, either one of them, you can’t talk about your views.
If this amendment passed, Congress would have the authority to criminalize bloggers, to criminalize movie-makers.”

Cruz was previewing a hearing on Sen. Tom Udall's amendment, which if passed (spoiler: it won't) would allow Congress and states to regulate campaign spending again, adding some caveats to the First Amendment. But others at the conferences, like Heritage's Hans von Spakovsky, suggested that the right needed to fight more aggressively and pre-empt the Democrats' arguments for campaign finance reform.

Sure enough, the day that Udall's amendment got a hearing, there was Cruz. He introduced two bills aimed at embarrassing Democrats by reframing their concerns as rank hypocrisy. First was the SuperPAC Elimination Act of 2014, to "allow unlimited direct contributions by citizens and lawful permanent residents of the United States to candidates in Federal elections." It would eliminate Super PACs by making them pointless—why give $1 million to a third party when you can give it to a candidate?

Next was the "Free All Speech Act," which dealt with the quandary at the end of Cruz's weekend speech: "any law that restricts the political speech of American citizens shall apply with equal force to media corporations, such as the New York Times, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), and the CBS Television Network." Get it? Get it? At least nobody's pretending that this is a high-minded discussion of speech rights and constitutional law.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

Yes, Black Families Tend to Spank More. That Doesn’t Mean It’s Good for Black Kids.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge


The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 6:23 PM Bryan Cranston Reenacts Baseball’s Best Moments to Promote the Upcoming Postseason
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.