You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Ted Cruz has the same “dead broke” problem that dogged Hillary Clinton.

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

In the scheme of campaign ethics, Ted Cruz’s failure to properly disclose big, low-interest loans, which he used to help finance his 2012 Senate campaign, is a relatively minor lapse. As David Dayen writes, it underlines big problems with our campaign finance system, and an undisclosed loan (from Goldman Sachs, where Cruz’s wife works, no less) might shatter supporters’ chaste image of him. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that Cruz engaged in wrongdoing.

The real political danger is the same one that caused Hillary Clinton weeks of bad headlines, when she explained away gargantuan speaking fees, and tried to relate to people of modest means, by noting that she and Bill were “dead broke” when his presidency ended.

This was true in a narrow technical sense, but the practical reality is that they were “dead broke” in a way poor people can only dream of being “dead broke.” That’s why the line blew up in her face.

When Cruz tells voters he “liquidate[d] our entire net worth, liquid net worth, and put it into the campaign,” he’s giving the impression that he put everything on the line for his country, when in fact only a person with complete economic security could do what he did. Unlike Clinton, he also has a potential problem with the FEC. But politically, they both made the mistake of pretending to be vulnerable to financial catastrophe when in truth they knew they were set for life.