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Story highlights

Ted Cruz failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans from the nation's largest banks when he ran for the Senate in 2012

Cruz did not report to the Federal Election Commission two loans from Citibank and Goldman Sachs

(CNN) —  

Ted Cruz failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans from the nation’s largest banks when he ran for the Senate in 2012, a potential violation of federal election rules.

Cruz did not report to the Federal Election Commission two personal loans from Citibank and Goldman Sachs, where his wife works, during his come-from-behind win in the Texas Republican primary, campaign spokesman Catherine Frazier confirmed Wednesday.

The New York Times was the first to report the error on Wednesday.

The senator did eventually list the loans on personal financial disclosures, but the Cruz campaign acknowledged the mistake after the New York Times report was published.

“These loans have been disclosed over and over and over again,” Cruz told reporters quickly after the news broke. “It is an inadvertent filing question. The facts of the underlying matter have been disclosed for many, many years.”

Frazier said the loans from Goldman and Citi were borrowed against their own money – the couple sold stocks and liquidated their savings to finance the bid. She estimated the total loans were less than $500,000, and said he did not receive any special terms and has now paid off the loan. They are planning on working with the FEC to amend their prior filings, Frazier said.

“Now we realize that we should have disclosed it, yes,” Frazier told reporters in South Carolina. “It’s a matter of semantics in terms of listing that that was a loan and we’re asking the FEC what we need to do to update it, if anything.”

The news, on the eve of the next Republican debate in South Carolina, could pose a political problem beyond the arcane campaign finance requirements. Cruz’s brand of Republicanism is cold toward concerns of major financial institutions, and he has pitched himself as a populist, evangelical everyman who gained political power through hard work and an appetite for risk.

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Cruz frequently shares with audiences the decision by his wife, Heidi, and him to empty their assets into the campaign bank account in order to compete with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the overwhelming favorite in the crucial Senate Republican primary who invested $25 million of his own money. But he has not spoken of the loans from the financial giants, which are still politically unpopular after the financial crisis of 2008.

When asked by CNN’s Dana Bash how he squared his image with the large loan from Goldman Sachs, Cruz played up the hard decision to pour their income into the Senate run.

“The premise of your question is not right,” he said. “Heidi and I when we ran for Senate, we made decision to put our liquid net worth into the campaign.”

Federal election records show Cruz extended loans of more than $1 million to his campaign during the 2012 cycle. Personal financial disclosure forms later filed show loans in that period totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars and as much as an additional $1 million.

Campaign aides on Wednesday were publicly treating the fracas lightly, sharing other examples of #CruzCrimes on social media and downplaying it as nothing more than a clerical overlook. A top aide to a rival campaign described the revelations as a cheap shot and non-issue.

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CNN’s Abigail Crutchfield and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.