Joaquin Castro doubles down amid backlash over tweeting names of Trump donors
Joaquin Castro, a Democratic congressman from Texas and chairman of the presidential campaign of his twin brother, Julián, fired back on Tuesday after being castigated on social media for tweeting the names and occupations of his constituents who’d maxed out their donations to President Donald Trump.
His tweet contained a graphic titled “Who’s funding Trump?” and listed the names of 44 people who purportedly contributed the maximum amount allowed by campaign finance laws. Their occupations, which, like donor names, are public record, were also listed. Close to a dozen of the donors shown are retirees.
“Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump,” Castro wrote, naming local businesses whose owners were on the list. “Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”
The graphic, which Castro indicated had originated with a Democratic activist group, was blasted out to the more than 27,000 followers of his congressional campaign account on Tuesday afternoon. It came as politicians’ loaded rhetoric has come under closer scrutiny after a mass shooting over the weekend in El Paso that killed 22 and wounded dozens of others. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, which mirrored language used by the suspected shooter in a racist manifesto, has loomed over the tragedy in the days since.
Several GOP congressional leaders rebuked their colleague on Tuesday.
“Targeting and harassing Americans because of their political beliefs is shameful and dangerous. What happened to ‘when they go low, we go high?’” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted, referring to former first lady Michelle Obama’s viral mantra. “Or does that no longer matter when your brother is polling at 1%? Americans deserve better.”
Steve Scalise, the House minority whip, who was gravely wounded two years ago when a gunman targeting Republicans opened fire on GOP lawmakers practicing for a charity baseball game, said he knows personally how dangerous such moves could be.
“People should not be personally targeted for their political views. Period,” he tweeted. “This isn’t a game. It’s dangerous, and lives are at stake.”
He added: “I know this firsthand.”
Castro was pummeled by some on social media, like the Trump 2020 campaign's communications director, Tim Murtaugh, who said there is a double standard and Castro’s naming and shaming would invite harassment or, worse, violence against private citizens. Murtaugh accused Castro of blasting out a “target list.”
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, whom Castro had once been rumored to challenge for his seat, called the tweet “grossly inappropriate” and assailed what he called a dangerous “win-at-all-costs mentality.” The move is “not what Texans have a right to expect from their members of Congress,” he wrote.
Castro responded with a flurry of defensive tweets to Murtaugh and journalists who had criticized him.
The graphic didn’t contain “private or personal info — no addresses or phone #, etc," he wrote. "It’s publicly reported info printed in newspapers routinely from the @nyt to the @dcexaminer. You know that.”
He also doubled down on the initial sentiment, saying the Trump campaign “has stoked fear of brown-skinned immigrants.” Castro also pointed out that the campaign had used donor money to pay for more than 2,000 ads on Facebook echoing the anti-immigrant language used by the El Paso suspect.
“That is truly dangerous for millions,” Castro added. “Will you commit not to run another ad like that?”