A group of House Republican lawmakers has sent a letter to the House Ethics Committee asking for an investigation into Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro, who earlier this week doxed supporters of President Donald Trump.
A bit of background: Earlier this week, the official re-election campaign Twitter account for Castro, who represents much of the San Antonio area, posted the specific businesses, professions and Twitter handles of people who allegedly donated the maximum allowable support to Trump.
“Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump,” the caption of the tweet read.
“Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”
Many conservatives were not happy. And on Friday, six GOP lawmakers, led by Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, sent a letter expressing their concerns to House Ethics Committee Chair Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat from Florida, and ranking member Rep. Kenny Marchant, a Republican from Texas.
“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,” the letter reads, citing House rules that require members to “behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”
“These acts must immediately be investigated to determine if Rep. Castro has violated the ethical rules of this institution,” the letter adds.
The letter is also signed by Republican Reps. 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, as The Hill noted.
“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 wrote.
“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.”
Candidates for federal office are required to disclose the identity of donors who give $200 or more, and those filings are generally available online.
But most politicians who not choose to dox the supporters of another candidate.
“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 GOP lawmakers’ letter reads.
“The defeat of a political opponent can never justify sacrificing our values as a free nation.”
Biggs explained his reasoning further in a statement posted to his website.
“We are asking the Ethics Committee to answer a simple question: Is an attempt to suppress protected First Amendment activity of American citizens conduct that reflects creditably on the House?” he said.
“It doesn’t matter that the information could be obtained from public sources,” Biggs added. “There is no doubt about Congressman Castro’s intent in posting a list of private citizens with their places of employment and telling his supporters that those individuals were responsible for fueling hate.”
Castro, for his part, has refused to apologize.
“When you make a political contribution, especially to a federal candidate, that’s a public record,” Castro said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” as Talking Points Memo noted. “And so that graphic lists people’s names and many of them are business owners so they actually own those companies.
“These are prominent donors, most of them public figures or many of them public figures. But their money is being taken and used to fuel these hateful ads and it has put millions of people in this country in fear.”
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