Pre-Endorsement, Ted Cruz Found a Way to Benefit From Trump

May the mourning period be brief.

It really is best to consider all politicians as mere mortals, guarding our hearts against having our “champions” fail us.

A firm case in point would be Cruz’s Friday endorsement of his bitter rival, Donald Trump.

Between those who have written him off completely and those who are rationalizing that “endorse” and “support” aren’t the same thing, there lies those dirty secrets and political machinations that make up politics-as-usual.

When you hear about one of your heroes engaging in these activities, it really does take the shine off of that penny.

Politico is reporting that while things were “unpleasant” between Cruz and Trump, that didn’t keep Cruz from immediately making money from Trump, in order to fund his campaign.

Just six weeks after he dropped out – and more than a month before Cruz would dramatically snub the nominee at the Republican National Convention – the senator quietly began renting his vast donor email file to his former rival, pocketing at least tens of thousands of dollars, and more likely hundreds of thousands, that can be used to bankroll the Texan’s own political future.

Trump began paying to solicit some of Cruz’s supporters for campaign cash as early as June 17. “We need you to stand with Mr. Trump before it is too late,” read the initial Trump campaign missive. A second solicitation came the next day. Another came the day after that. All told, in the last three months Trump has emailed at least some segments of Cruz’s donor list more than 30 times.

So if you’re a Cruz supporter and you’ve been pulling your hair out over all the Trump campaign emails you’ve been getting, don’t curse the RNC under your breath. Ted Cruz rented out your info to Trump’s campaign.

It’s not as if this is some new or unusual practice. It’s not. Who would have thought, however, that in a little over a month after dropping from the race, Ted Cruz’s campaign would be so comfortable with handing over the names and emails of all those who had supported him with such devotion to the man who didn’t just try to beat him in a primary, but who tried to ruin his life, as well?

The exact details of Trump’s financial arrangement with Cruz are unclear, and loose federal record-keeping makes it impossible to verify. But an email rate sheet obtained by POLITICO shows that Cruz asks campaigns to pay more than $22,000 for the right to send a single email his list of 280,000 digital donors. He charges more than $51,000 to ping his full email file of 1.28 million supporters. Because Trump has rented Cruz’s list so often, he is almost surely receiving a negotiated discount from the list price, industry veterans say.

“You are just a send away from reaching the most engaged and generous supporters in Republican presidential primary history,” the Cruz rate sheet says. More than $20 million was raised from Cruz’s email list, it says.

Righteous bucks!

According to FEC records, Cruz’s campaign has raked in somewhere in the territory of $290,000.

Trump’s campaign has been getting some mileage from the arrangement. Records show Cruz’s list was used five times in June by Trump’s campaign, directly, and the RNC, which gives 80% of its funds to Trump, has rented Cruz’s list over 25 times since July.

One of Trump’s PACs, Great America PAC has used the Cruz list twice; once in July, signed by Ed Rollins, and once in August, signed by Rudy Giuliani.

After Cruz failed to back Trump at the convention, he told the Texas delegation he would not “go like a servile puppy dog” and simply endorse after Trump had “slandered” his family.

“I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father,” Cruz said then. He had been by renting Trump his email list for more than a month.

In addition to paying to rent Cruz’s list, his campaign has offered some candidates the ability to strike so-called “revenue-sharing” agreements where, unbeknownst to the donor, Cruz and the renter split the donation. The rate sheet suggests Cruz would receive 60 percent of those funds, while the renter would receive 40 percent.

To be clear, when you receive those solicitations for donations in your email, unless you specifically donated to, or signed up to receive emails from that particular candidate, you’d never know how that campaign got your information. The fine print doesn’t reveal those details.

Robert Graham, a cyber security expert conducted a bit of an experiment, where he donated $10 to most of the candidates early on in the race, setting up different email accounts for each donation.

Through this, Graham hoped to track how campaigns shared his information.

Graham’s records show that Trump and his joint fundraising committee has solicited the Cruz list more than any other candidate or committee — a total of 31 times, most recently on Friday, only hours before Cruz revealed on Facebook that he was voting for Trump.

Renting out email lists is one way candidates get their finances in check.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has used the practice to raise over $400,000. Considering he left the trail deeply in debt, this was almost a necessity.

Reignite Digital LLC is an in-house list rental outfit located at the same address as Jeff Roe, Cruz’s campaign manager’s Axiom Strategies business office in Austin.

Cruz’s digital director, John Thompson, serves as the president of Reignite LLC.

According to two people familiar with the Cruz operation, Roe, notorious for his attention to detail and interest in cost-cutting, wanted Cruz to operate his own rental business rather than pay a cut to an outside vendor.

“The list should be maintained by someone who cares about the candidate and cares about the opportunity to keep in touch with donors in a way that’s respectful,” a senior Cruz adviser said.

Other than Trump, those sending to Cruz’s list are Senator Marco Rubio, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and National Republican Senatorial Committee.

All told, Reignite has reported sending nearly $200,000 in “list rental income” to Cruz’s campaign committee in July and August. Targeted Victory, a Republican digital firm that worked with Cruz during the primaries, also reported sending Cruz another $88,000 or so in list income.

I feel obligated to reiterate here that this is not an uncommon practice.

Does it make that bitter pill from last week go down any easier?

Probably not, but at least you have a wider view of the landscape and can adjust your emotions accordingly.