Sen. Ted Cruz (R) accused U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) on Monday of misleading Texas voters by allowing a special-interest PAC to help raise funds for his campaign to challenge Cruz's re-election.
O'Rourke has repeatedly said that PACs have a corrupting influence, but the congressman has accepted more than $172,000 in funds collected on his behalf by the J Street PAC, according to his Federal Election Commission filings, the Dallas Morning News reported.
What has O'Rourke said?
“It’s really corrupted our democracy. You have members of Congress beholden to special interests and to corporations, instead of their constituents and people of this country,” O’Rourke said during a campaign stop at Texas Tech University in Lubbock earlier this year. “So running a campaign that relies only on people, and not on PACs, ensures that we respond directly to people and that people never have to wonder whether I represent a special interest or a corporation.”
The El Paso native who was elected to Congress in 2013 has promised throughout his barnstorming bid for Senate that he would not take PAC money in his race to unseat Cruz.
O'Rourke told reporters Monday that he has collected money from more than 200,000 donors in the last three months.
"I have no idea what organizations they belong to, where they work. It's too many for me to understand. Most of them [are] from the state of Texas," O'Rourke said on a campaign stop in Odessa, according to the Morning News. "What is important to know is that no special interests, no political action committee, no corporation has the ability to purchase influence or access."
O'Rourke campaign spokesman Chris Evans told the Morning News that the candidate has not accepted PAC donations.
A spokeswoman for the J Street PAC told the newspaper that it had gathered 371 individual donations, as of last week, on O'Rourke's behalf for his campaign.
What did Cruz's campaign say?
“But now we know that O'Rourke’s actions have not matched his words, and he has accepted significant fundraising support from the extremist, yet influential, anti-Israel J-Street PAC to aid his candidacy," Cruz campaign spokeswoman Emily Mille said in a news release to TheBlaze. "If O’Rourke does believe that PAC support is corrupting, then he should immediately return the $172,285 raised for him by J-Street PAC.”
What is J Street?
J Street’s motto is “pro-Israel, pro-peace,” according to its website. And it supports only Democratic and independent candidates. However, J Street has been critical of Israel during this election cycle, according to The Washington Free Beacon.
O'Rourke has shown alignment with the PAC and denounced President Donald Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. J Street blasted the Trump administration and called the embassy move, "reckless," according to the Free Beacon report.
O'Rourke was one of eight Democrats in the House who voted against crucial funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, the El Paso Times reported in 2015. He also boycotted Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address to a joint session of Congress in 2015.