Ted Cruz pushes back on questions about his podcast's fundraising arrangement with iHeartMedia

Shannon Ryan Image
Wednesday, April 3, 2024
ABC13 asks Sen. Ted Cruz about podcast controversy
Sen. Ted Cruz is facing questions over a tangled web of political contributions involving the company that airs his podcast.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Questions about the ethics of Senator Ted Cruz's fundraising arrangement with the corporation hosting his podcast are being raised.

The corporation iHeartMedia employs lobbyists, from whom senators are forbidden to accept gifts.

Cruz's camp has previously defended the arrangement, saying he does not benefit financially.

But now, new financial records are raising eyebrows, and ABC13's Shannon Ryan spoke with the senator on Tuesday.

Here is where the lines get blurry. A political action committee (PAC) that exists only to ensure the senator's reelection received hundreds of thousands of dollars through this deal last year.

The PAC accounted for about a third of Cruz's fundraising, but if you ask Cruz about his podcast, he will tell you it is a service to constituents.

"Because the media doesn't report on news, and I do the podcast to talk to the people of Texas about the issues that matter," Cruz told Ryan.

But now, questions are being raised as to whether Cruz has been using the show to bolster his own war chest.

ABC13's news partners at the Houston Chronicle uncovered records showing iHeartMedia donated more than $630,000 last year to a PAC.

According to the PAC's website, it exists solely to ensure the senator's reelection.

"So if an entity, which employs lobbyists, is giving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to your reelection efforts, how can you say you're not being compensated?" Ryan asked Cruz, who laughed before his response.

"You know, it really is sad what's happened to the media. The media exists right now, seemingly, to parrot left-wing Democrat attacks. The group that brought that complaint..." Cruz began to say. Ryan noted that she did not ask about the media.

"Hold on a second. Let me answer your question. You asked the question. I know you're not asking about it, but the group that brought that attack is a left-wing Democrat attack group, and by the way, you know what you didn't mention in your question? The fact that they filed the complaint with the Senate ethics committee raises these same issues. You know what the Senate Ethics Committee did? They threw it out, they said, 'It had no basis in law,'" Cruz said.

Eyewitness News confirmed with Cruz's campaign that he is referencing a 2022 complaint lodged with the committee, which challenged the podcast deal alone, not the money pumped into the PAC the following year, which iHeartMedia has said is sourced from ad revenue the show is generating.

"So all the Democrats are left to do is make false personal attacks, but the media, alright, I get you're gonna carry their water, but my request to you is simply actually cover the issues," Cruz said.

Eyewitness News did speak with Cruz about a number of issues. You can hear more from our conversation on This Week in Texas on Sunday, April 7.

Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Collin Allred of Dallas, stands in the way of Cruz and a third term in the U.S. Senate this coming November's election.

For more updates on this story, follow Shannon Ryan on Facebook, X and Instagram.