GOP lawmakers want ethics investigation on Joaquin Castro
WASHINGTON – Several Republican lawmakers on Friday called on the House Ethics Committee to open an investigation into Rep. Joaquin Castro after he tweeted the names and businesses of 44 Texans that donated to President Donald Trump’s campaign.
In a letter to House Ethics Committee Chairman Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and ranking member Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas, the lawmakers accused Castro of “violating Rule XXIII of the Code of Official Conduct for publicly posting the names and workplaces of individual donors to” Trump.
“Posting a target list of private citizens simply for supporting his political opponent is anithetical to our principles and serves to suppress the free speech and free association rights of Americans,” the letter says.
Republicans Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Jody Hice of Georgia, Debbie Lesko of Arizona, Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Randy Weber of Texas and Ted Budd of North Carolina all signed the letter.
Castro on Monday criticized 44 donors that donated the maximum amount of $2,000 to Trump, all of which were from San Antonio, his hometown and the district he represents.
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He included a screenshot of the names of and their businesses in the tweet. The list is public record and can be found online at the Federal Elections Commission website. He is the twin brother of 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro.
“Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders,'” Joaquin Castro wrote in the tweet.
Castro’s tweet came two days after a mass shooting in El Paso, where at least 22 people have died. The alleged shooter said he was targeting Mexicans, authorities said. The suspect was also linked to a “manifesto” that had anti-immigrant and anti-Latino ideologies.
Trump criticized Castro’s tweet on Wednesday, hours after Trump visited El Paso to meet with first repsonders, hospital staff and victims and family members of the shooting.
Castro’s congressional office called the claims from the GOP lawmakers “baseless.”
“Their letter is a disingenuous attempt by pro-dark money, far-right legislators to limit Americans’ ability to track money in politics. They would prefer large contributions to be kept secret so that there’s no meaningful transparency in political giving,” said Castro’s spokeswoman Katherine Schneider. “We look forward to hearing from the Committee if the request is considered.”
The GOP lawmakers in the letter claimed that publishing a donor list acts “to suppress free speech and the right of Americans to freely associate under the First Amendment is not a new concept.”
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“By publishing a list of private citizens who donated to his political opponent, Rep. Castro sought to encourage harassment against those citizens simply on the basis of their political beliefs,” the letter continues. “It cannot be fairly argued that Rep. Castro had any other purpose in posting that list and telling his activist followers that those individuals were inciting hate. Whether he intended to provoke physical violence or merely verbal harassment, his intent was to chill the free speech and free association rights of Americans.
“This behavior cannot be tolerated by a member of this institution. Rep. Castro took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, yet his actions serve to diminish the constitutional rights of American citizens,” the letter concludes. “The defeat of a political opponent can never justify sacrificing our values as a free nation.”
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