A group of House conservatives on Friday asked the House Ethics Committee to open a probe into Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, over a tweet in which he identified several supporters of President Donald Trump following the mass shooting in El Paso, The Hill reports.
“Posting a target list of private citizens simply for supporting his political opponent is antithetical to our principles and serves to suppress the free speech and free association rights of Americans,” reads the letter written to House Ethics Committee Chairman Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and ranking member Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas. “These acts must immediately be investigated to determine if Rep. Castro has violated the ethical rules of this institution.”
Castro, the twin brother of Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, tweeted out a list of 44 people from San Antonio who had made the maximum contribution to Trump’s campaign, as well as their occupations, following last weekend’s mass shooting in that city.
Critics blasted Castro, saying he put the people, who are private citizens, in danger, by implying they are associated with the killer simply because they donated to Trump.
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., was behind the letter, which was also signed by Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Jody Hice of Georgia, Debbie Lesko of Arizona, Jeff Duncan of South Carolian, Randy Weber of Texas) and Ted Budd of North Carolina.
“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 lawmakers say in the letter. “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.”
The shooter has said he targeted “Mexicans,” and Castro defended the tweet, saying it was meant as a “lament” that funding from prominent business owners was used to fund Trump’s advertising, which Castro said was used to pay for “hateful ads” about “Hispanics invading our country.”