Look, it happens. You cut a deal with your Princeton roommate to invest in his Caribbean private equity firm and then forget about a promissory note when filing financial statements for your Senate run. That it happened to Ted Cruz just reinforces his grassroots bona fides.
Time noticed — or, given Cruz's deep unpopularity of late, was perhaps pointed to — an amendment to past disclosures that Cruz filed with the Federal Election Commission. The Texas senator has twice had to update a report on the Caribbean investment, and to answer questions posed by the Senate Ethics Committee about the relationship. (Here are the members of that committee, if you'd like to indulge your political back-stabbing conspiracy theories.)
There doesn't seem to be any actual wrongdoing at the heart of the matter. The story, in short: Cruz inveested $6,000 in his former college roommate's private equity firm based in Jamaica (his roommate's home country). About 10 years ago, Cruz cashed out of the company, taking $25,000 in cash and a promissory note for another $75,000. When he ran for Senate in 2012, Cruz says he forgot about that promissory note, filing an amendment to his initial income report when he says he was reminded of it by that former roommate. The ethics committee, in the course of its typical analysis of such amendments, prompted Cruz to file another amendment in his most recent filing earlier this month.
The Cruzes — Ted and his wife Heidi — are wealthy. She is an executive at Goldman Sachs; the two hold securities worth somewhere in the millions-of-dollars range. (In fact, it was when she took a job at the Department of the Treasury under President George W. Bush, that Cruz divested from the capital equity firm.) A $75,000 promissory note is a small fraction of the couple's assets, meaning that it's highly unlikely that Cruz intentionally hid its existence in order to deceive voters about his actual net worth. Cruz's forthrightness with Time when asked about the issue further suggests that this was a — fairly typical! — oversight from a man with a complex financial history.
But that's sort of the thing. Cruz and his millions of dollars and his Jamaican promissory notes and his Princeton credentials isn't even close to being one of the richest people on Capitol Hill. He'd need twice as much as the upper estimate of his net worth in order to crack the top 50; he'd need 89 times as much net worth in order to top the richest member of Congress, Rep. Darrell Issa of California. In Congress, only having a few million — enough to forget that you're owed tens of thousands of dollars by an old friend — means you actually are on the lower end of the income spectrum.
Which is maybe why the Tea Party loves him. He's not like these plutocrats running around Capitol Hill. He's just a regular ol' millionaire.