Sen. Ted Cruz’s response Thursday to ex-House Speaker John Boehner’s litany of insults toward him was simple: “I don’t know the man.”
But the Texas senator and GOP presidential candidate was glossing over his history with Boehner – in fact, Cruz once worked as Boehner’s lawyer.
This was well before Boehner was speaker, and well before Cruz was a senator.
The pairing dated back to an incident in late 1996, when an elderly couple driving through Florida intercepted a phone call between Boehner and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich on their police scanner. Boehner and Gingrich were plotting strategy. The couple recorded the call.
At the time, the House Ethics Committee was investigating Gingrich for his book contract – and the couple took the recording to Rep. Jim McDermott, then the top Democrat on the ethics panel. McDermott, in turn, leaked the call to reporters.
Boehner sued McDermott for violating his privacy. The case made its way through the courts for years and eventually to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case. As a result, Boehner won.
And one of the attorneys who initially worked the case for Boehner was Cruz.
A 1998 Seattle Post-Intelligencer article quoted Cruz as saying, in defense of Boehner, “Much the same as the First Amendment does not allow anyone to slander or libel anyone, it also does not allow someone to ignore the federal criminal laws.” In another article in the same newspaper, Cruz argued against the notion that people could “sit down and intercept every cell-phone conversation they liked.”
The Cruz campaign, though, on Thursday stood by the senator’s comments about not knowing Boehner.
Press secretary Catherine Frazier said: “He was a junior associate and his involvement didn’t extend beyond assisting with briefs and attending meetings with [Boehner’s] staff.”
The back and forth came after Boehner, at a Stanford University-hosted event Wednesday, called Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh” and said he would not vote for him if he’s the nominee.