(CN) – Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the Federal Election Commission’s cap on how much money candidates can reimburse themselves for loans to their campaign, claiming it violates his right to free speech.
The federal complaint filed in Washington, D.C., by lead attorney Charles Cooper of Cooper and Kirk states the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act bars political campaigns from using more than $250,000 in money raised after an election to repay a candidate’s personal loans to their own campaign.
Cruz – who narrowly won re-election last November in a race against Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke – contends the cap violates the First Amendment rights of candidates, their campaign committees and donors by restricting their political speech.
He claims the FEC interprets the statute to not only bar the repayment of personal loans guaranteed by a candidate for their campaign, but also restrict the repayment of a candidate’s own money.
The restriction further limits the time period a candidate can raise funds to communicate their political messages, Cruz says.
“Criminalizing the basic means of financing political communication infringes a candidate’s ‘fundamental…right to spend personal loans for campaign speech,” the lawsuit states, citing the 2008 Supreme Court ruling Davis v. FEC. “In addition, the post-election repayment limitation restricts the speech of those potential donors who would otherwise support a candidate financially by contributing after an election to fund pre-election political speech.”
Cru claims he made two personal loans to his campaign totaling $260,000 in his successful re-election race against O’Rourke. After the race, he says his campaign was left with $406,000 in outstanding debts, including $10,000 still owed to him.
“These arbitrary restrictions on core political speech by candidates, their campaign committees, and their supporters are invalid and must be struck down,” the complaint states.
Cruz is asking a federal judge to grant injunctive relief against the post-election limitations on campaign loan repayments set out by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, also known as the McCain-Feingold Act.
The FEC said it does not comment on pending litigation.