Former Ethics Head Blasts “Openly Corrupt” Ted Cruz for “Selling Access”

A government watchdog expert who formerly served as head of the Office of Government Ethics lashed out at Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) this weekend after an op-ed by the senator heavily implied that Republicans would take punitive actions against so-called “woke CEOs.”

Cruz, writing a column in The Wall Street Journal last week, took aim at companies that have recently spoken out against new restrictive voting proposals, including the recently passed law in Georgia that creates tougher voter ID standards, restricts early voting and ballot drop box locations, and imposes new provisions that give Republicans in the state legislature greater control over how elections and recounts are handled.

Several corporate entities, including Major League Baseball (MLB), Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, voiced strong disapproval for the voting restrictions after pressure from voting rights activists, causing many Republicans to become upset with these companies, which have frequently supported them in the past, including through political campaign contributions.

These corporations have often received lucrative tax cuts from the GOP. But Cruz made clear in his op-ed that Republicans wouldn’t be helping them out any longer, if their criticisms of how GOP lawmakers voted in state legislatures and in Washington persisted.

Cruz noted that usually members of his party might “shrug their shoulders, call these companies ‘job creators,’ and start to cut their taxes.”

“Not this time,” he added.

“This time, we won’t look the other way on Coca-Cola’s $12 billion in back taxes owed… This time, when Major League Baseball lobbies to preserve its multibillion-dollar antitrust exception, we’ll say no thank you. This time, when Boeing asks for billions in corporate welfare, we’ll simply let the Export-Import Bank expire,” Cruz wrote in his column.

Walter Shaub, who formerly served as the head of the Office of Government Ethics, took note of Cruz’s words over the weekend, describing them as revealing more than what the senator might have intended them to.

“This may be the most openly corrupt thing any Senator has said,” Shaub, who is currently a senior ethics fellow at the Project on Government Oversight, wrote on Twitter. “It’s the part everyone knows: these crooks sell access.”

“This is why our republic is broken,” Shaub continued in his short missive against Cruz’s words. “Immoral politicians selling power we’ve entrusted to them like it’s theirs to sell.”

Shaub served as Office of Government Ethics director through the summer of 2017, when he abruptly resigned out of protest against then-President Donald Trump, whose administration frequently blocked his work as a government watchdog. He had left with six months to go in his five-year term in the role, having previously served under former President Barack Obama as well.

“There isn’t much more I could accomplish at the Office of Government Ethics, given the current situation,” Shaub had said of his resignation at the time.

More recently, Shaub has endorsed H.R. 1, also known as the For the People Act, which sets federal standards for how elections and campaigning should be conducted. The bill would limit dark money influence on political campaigns by making donation disclosures public. It would also standardize voter registration across the U.S. by establishing automatic voter registration, gathering individuals’ names from local government databases and automatically signing them up to vote based on their most recent information.

In addition to these provisions and others that make voting easier for Americans, the bill would require states to set up nonpartisan redistricting commissions, to lessen the use of gerrymandering that comes about when state legislatures draw up their own political borders.

Even before his criticism of Cruz for his op-ed, Shaub had called for passage of H.R. 1 to ensure that legislation similar to what was passed in Georgia, doesn’t gain traction in other (GOP-led) states, resulting in disproportionate harm to the rights of communities of color.

“If the Senate doesn’t pass #HR1, the wave of Jim Crow legislation being enacted by white supremacist state legislatures could destroy the republic,” Shaub said last week.