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Ted Cruz’s Gay Marriage Money

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Ted Cruz, the running man.

Ever since I first got to really know him in 2008, Ted Cruz has been a man more obsessed with running for office than actually serving. Now, with just two years and two months in his first elective office, the Houston Chronicle is reporting that Cruz is poised to announce as a candidate for president.

One of the first things Cruz may have to do on the campaign trail is explain to his social conservative base why in 2009, while preparing to run for state attorney general, he took more than $250,000 in campaign funds from out-of-state investment bankers who supported legalizing gay marriage. Cruz in February introduced legislation to leave same-sex marriage up to the states, a clear move to cut off the U.S. Supreme Court before it rules on the issue.

Cruz took the donations in 2009 when he was trying to out-position state Representative Dan Branch in an expected race to replace then-Attorney General Greg Abbott, who had been expected to run for governor. Abbott delayed his gubernatorial quest for four years when Rick Perry decided to seek re-election. Cruz out-paced Branch by raising more than $1 million in the first part of 2009.

The gay rights donations were from two very conservative investment bankers, one in New York and one in San Francisco. While both men would be in full agreement with Cruz on many issues, they were worlds apart on same-sex marriage even in 2009. But that did not stop Cruz from taking their money – and it was their money that gave Cruz his fundraising advantage over Branch.

One donor was Paul Elliott Singer of the hedge fund Elliott Management Corporation. Singer, whose son married his partner, donated $425,000 and raised another $500,000 to push for legalization of same-sex marriage in New York. In 2012, Singer donated $1 million to the American Unity PAC, with the purpose of supporting candidates who back gay marriage. Singer gave Cruz $25,000 in 2009. 

The other donor was Peter Thiel of San Francisco, a venture capitalist behind Facebook and PayPal. Thiel, who is openly gay, is more libertarian than Republican, having financially supported Ron Paul in the past. “I believe that gay rights and marriage rights for gay people should not be a partisan issue,” Thiel said at a 2010 fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.”Gay marriage can’t be a partisan issue because as long there are partisan issues or cultural issues in this country, you’ll have trench warfare like on the western front in World War I. You’ll have lots of carnage and no progress.”  

In a 2009 essay published about a month before his $235,000 donation to Cruz, Thiel laid out his case for becoming a libertarian with the phrase: “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.” Thiel blamed “welfare beneficiaries” and the women’s vote as having “rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.” Since less than a month passed between Thiel’s essay and Cruz taking his money, it would be fair to ask Cruz whether freedom and democracy are incompatible.

Less surprising than that Singer and Thiel would donate to a conservative candidate is the fact Cruz would accept their money at the same time he was appealing to Texas social conservatives on issues such as banning gay marriage in Texas and his defense before the U.S. Supreme Court of displaying the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds. Normally, I am hesitant to play the guilt-by-association game that politicians have to agree with their donors, but these two individuals made up a quarter of Cruz’ 2009 justification for why he was the more viable Republican candidate for attorney general.

But then, Cruz always has been something of an opportunist. In January 2011, it was not clear whether Perry would once again block his boss’ path to the Governor’s Mansion. But with Kay Bailey Hutchison retiring, the Senate seat was open. So he jumped into that race for the 2012 cycle. In his brief tenure in the Senate, he has shot into the national eye not so much by taking on Democrats as being a thorn in the side of the Republican leadership. At first this brought to my mind Louisiana’s Huey Long’s antagonizing of FDR. Senate Republicans hated Long. Senate Democrats loathed him. And President Roosevelt called Long one of the two most dangerous men in American. But Huey Long was a career politician compared to Ted Cruz. Long had served for 14 years as an elected Louisiana official before entering the Senate and demagoguing his way to national prominence. Even Texas’ version, William Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel, had two years as governor under his belt before entering the Senate.

I’ll leave the debate on the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, to the Democrats and Republicans. But glancing through the rest of the legislation filed by Cruz since he’s been in the Senate, mostly it is pandering. A look at a few:

S.505 – A bill to prohibit the use of drones to kill citizens of the United States within the United States. I haven’t heard of a drone strike in the U.S., but what about Texas Department of Public Safety helicotpers? Maybe it is different because these were not U.S. citizens. 

S.1661 – A bill to require the U.S. State Department to offer rewards of up to $5 million for information regarding the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

S.2024 – A bill to leave the definition of marriage up to the states.

S.2067 – A bill to prohibit the Department of Treasury from assigning tax statuses to organizations based on their political beliefs and activities. This stems for the slow approval of Tea Party tax-exemption determinations.

S.2170 – The American Energy Renaissance Act of 2014. Like Obamacare, I leave this one to the operatives of both sides. But essentially, it removes most restrictions on oil and gas production and refining. The legislation is as the crux of Cruz’s position on climate change: “data are not supporting what advocates are arguing.” California Governor Jerry Brown on Sunday said Cruz is “absolutely unfit” to be president because of his denial of climate change.

The real bottom line here is I don’t think Cruz is running to win the Republican presidential nomination next year. He’s running perhaps for the number two spot on the ticket. He’s running maybe to set the stage for a real run for the nomination in 2020 when he’ll only be 50 years old. He’s running maybe to promote his political views. Or Ted Cruz is running because running is what Ted Cruz does.

Ted Cruz is the running man.

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  • R.G. Ratcliffe

    An addendum, Branch actually raised more money than Cruz in preparation for the race that never occurred, but Cruz outpaced Branch in the first half of 2009 because state law prevented Branch, as a sitting lawmaker, from raising money.

  • WUSRPH

    A few years ago, a little half-Cuban-half American boy looked in the mirror one morning and, looking at his image, said to himself: “You know, I’d make a very good President of the United States. In fact, I would make THE BEST President of the United States there ever will be.” and he has been running every since, doing anything and everything required to boost his chances.

    This scene is not that uncommon…For example, just a few years earlier another little boy…This one half-white and half-black, did virtually the same thing…just as hundreds of little boys (and a few little girls) have done over the years.

    One can hope, however, that the grown-up little Cuban-America boy is not as successful as the earlier boy has been.

    As to Cruz’s feelings about freedom vs. democracy, he obviously is going to say he loves democracy…with a little d—-after all he isn’t as crazy as Dusty Rhodes (look it up) in that great movie—-but some of his comments suggest that he, actually, has a very, very poor opinion of the voters…Like the time he said that the GOP had to kill Obamacare now “before they (the public) grow to like it”….strongly suggesting that he thought the voters could be bought by government giveaways…..Sort of like what Mitt said about the “47%”….or the way Ayn Rand talked about the public in her books and in her alleged Philosophy of Selfishness. Cruz often sounds like he agrees with Rand’s motto of “never do anything for anyone for free.” And I am certain he knows “Who is John Galt?”

    Cruz will be the fourth presidential candidate in recent years (three of them Republicans) who either was not born in the U.S. or whose father was not born in the U.S….McCain—born in the Panama Canal Zone; Romney—his father was born in Mexico; Obama–his father was born in a part of what was then in Tanganyika but Is now in Kenya; and Cruz who was born in Canada and whose father is Cuban born. Quite a change from the WASP Bushes.

    • wessexmom

      But unlike Obama, Cruz REALLY IS the foreign-born son of a Communist revolutionary!

    • José

      Barry Goldwater, the Republican candidate in 1964, was born in Arizona Territory three years before statehood. I wonder if anyone questioned his legal qualifications to be elected President.

      • R.G. Ratcliffe

        They did raise questions about Goldwater. To be disqualified, you’d really have to have neither parent be a U.S. citizen and be born out of the country.

  • wessexmom

    Ted Cruz is running because he’s a delusional attention junkie addicted to stirring up a crowd by stirring up trouble. Daddy threw Molotov Cocktails in Havana; Junior drops stink bombs on the floor of the US Senate!

    I’m relieved to know there’s at least one writer at Texas Monthly who sees through this pompous windbag–especially after watching serious journalists like Paul Burka and Evan Smith (along with the less-than-serious Erica Grieder) embarrass themselves by fawning all over this shallow arrogant narcissist!

  • Texas Publius

    Cruz isn’t running for President. He’s running to be Jeb or Scott Walker’s veep.

  • Perry/Cruz for 2016…watching dems haids explode. The only thing better would br Hillary/Warren. Oh I know have them do a live abortion in prime time….YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Dem Haid

      ^^^ Oh please Baby Jesus make it so!

    • Unwound

      Look, i know we’ve established a few times how stupid you are, but surely even you know this can never happen.

      • Indiana Pearl

        He’s a slow learner.

  • John Johnson

    “Thiel said at a 2010 fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.”Gay marriage can’t be a partisan issue because as long there are partisan issues or cultural issues in this country, you’ll have trench warfare like on the western front in World War I. You’ll have lots of carnage and no progress.”

    Oh, how true this statement really is. Whenever the moderates in both parties ever start to actually communicate with each other, the radical conservatives and the uber liberals throw abortion or gay rights grenades right into the middle of the room. Bingo! Mission accomplished.

    I supported Wendy Davis while hating abortions, but realizing that women have to make up their own minds. I supported Wendy Davis because the two people she ran against were flawed. One was a lackey for TXU/KKR during electricity deregulation legislation, and a water carrier for the insurance industry. He did nothing for his constituents or Texas consumers in general. The other bragged about being part of the team that balanced the Texas budget when it really wasn’t, and was a do nothing while a state rep. The choice for me was easy, but not so much for people that don’t have a clue what is really going on in Austin. The Right will vote for whoever says they are against gay rights and abortions, and the Left with do the opposite. Real positions and past actions on all other issues are moot.

    I don’t no longer expect things to change much in my lifetime, so who knows what this next election might bring. My guess is the person with the most money and the best “way with words” will be the next President if history repeats itself.

    • Indiana Pearl

      Then lobby against money in politics . . .

  • nickthap

    Thanks for a column in the Texas press that doesn’t say somewhere in it how “smart” Cruz is, as if to reassure the writer that their job isn’t made meaningless by having to cover someone as moronic as Cruz.

    • WUSRPH

      He has degrees from outstanding institutions…He is skilled at debating tricks, but that does not mean he is “smart” or “well educated”….It just means he is credentialized.

      • nickthap

        I mean, aren’t we talking about the same people that use “Obumbo” as an example of how stupid Ivy Leaguers can be? And aren’t they celebrating the fact that Scott Walker is a college dropout? What a joke. Jindal is the same thing–here’s a guy that’s a Rhodes scholar…and then look at what comes out of his mouth. Who are these people?

        • WUSRPH

          One of of their Texas heroes, Rep. Stickland, is a high school dropout! That supposedly makes him more receptive to what the “common man” wants…..We used to value knowledge in this country…Today we seem to think that it makes you suspect.

          • nickthap

            Except when “their” guy went to an Ivy League school, and only then is it a plus and s/he’s a “smart” person.

  • PrattonTexas

    So you don’t understand the idea of Federalism – that one can be against homosexual “marriage” but for the right of States to decide upon their own? Such is a fairly basic issue.

  • Suffragette

    What? “…Blamed the women’s vote for having rendered the notion of capitolist democracy an oxymoron”? Awww, the womenfolk voting like real citizen people just ruined everything!

  • Blue Dogs

    Abbott challenging both Perry & KBH in 2010 ? LOL LOL LOL LOL
    That wasn’t going to happen.

  • Wow, Singer and Thiel, of all people! Those guys are not just pro-gay marriage, they are Transhumanists who think we should allow labs to make offspring of two men (like Singer’s gay son and his husband) and genetically enhance babies. There are lots of Libertarian Transhumanists pretending to be conservatives supporting traditional marriage, like NOM and Heritage and FRC and ADF, Ryan Anderson, on and on (in fact, probably ALL of the pro-traditional marriage pundits that anyone has heard of), but they are just trying to dominate the discussion to avoid an outcome that actually bans creating people that are not the union of a man and a woman.

  • CBurns

    Oh brother. Hillary can take money from foreign governments and convicted felons, obama can take it from former radicals and domestic terrorists, but Ted Cruz can’t take it from someone whose views aren’t far off from his? Painting those who would vote for him as opponents of gay marriage is deceiving–there is a difference in believing this should be up to the states vs. the federal government. I guess you’ve never heard of the Log Cabin Republicans or conservatives and independents who aren’t against gay marriage? What a load of crap!