Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), the chairman of his twin brother’s presidential campaign, is taking heat for publishing the names and business interests of dozens of President Trump’s campaign donors who live and make their livelihoods in Castro’s San Antonio district.
The names of donors who give more than $200 to a candidate are publicly available online for anyone to see, but it’s unusual for a lawmaker to broadcast that information in an effort to publicly shame another campaign’s contributors.
Castro is defending his actions, accusing those who support Trump financially of “fueling a campaign of hate” toward immigrants that he said had provoked a shooter in El Paso, Texas, to kill 22 people last weekend.
Castro spokeswoman Katherine Schneider called the request for an investigation by the House Ethics Committee “baseless” and said that the information is regularly used as public information by media outlets.
“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 Schneider. “We look forward to hearing from the Committee if the request is considered.”
But Castro’s public naming of his own constituents, some of whom are older and retired or describe themselves as homemakers, was met with backlash from Trump, his campaign, Republican leaders, and even some on the left, who warned that the Texas Democrat was using his platform as a powerful lawmaker to target private citizens at a combustible moment in U.S. politics.
“People should not be personally targeted for their political views, period,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who was shot and nearly died in a politically motivated attack two years ago, said over Twitter. “This isn’t a game. It’s dangerous, and lives are at stake. I know this firsthand.”
The Hill interviewed several of the 44 donors who Castro named, and all were shocked at having been dragged into the national debate over racism in the era of Trump.
Justin Herricks, who owns Precision Pipe Rentals, said he’s worried about the safety of his employees. Herricks said he and his company have been receiving harassing messages and phone calls, with strangers reaching out to call him a “racist piece of shit” and accusing him of supporting a “white supremacist.”
Herricks this year donated the maximum $2,800 to the Trump reelection campaign, and he donated $15,000 to the Trump Victory Committee after attending a Midlands County Republican Party dinner with Vice President Pence.
Herricks said his company is about 70 percent Hispanic and that Castro’s tweet forced him to address the issue with his employees. He said his employees were supportive of him.