Cruz released a statement about his decision to fly to Mexico and said he was flying home Thursday afternoon.
By Rebecca Shabad
WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is facing backlash after photos went viral that showed him and his family traveling to Cancún, Mexico, as his state’s residents suffer without heat, water and power because of the state’s historic winter storm.
The images, which began circulating on social media Wednesday night, showed Cruz with his family waiting at an airport gate with luggage and boarding a plane. NBC News verified several of the photos of the senator traveling to Mexico.
After Cruz’s Senate office did not respond to NBC News’ repeated requests for comment on Thursday, Cruz released a statement explaining his decision to leave the state and said he was returning home Thursday afternoon. He said it has be an «infuriating week for Texans» and his family had «lost heat and power too.»
«With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends,» Cruz said. «Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon. My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas.
«We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm. My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe,» he added.
Cruz did not apologize or address Texans’ outrage over his trip.
Before Cruz released his statement, the Houston Police Department confirmed to NBC that the GOP senator’s staff contacted them on Wednesday afternoon to assist him in his arrival and movements through Houston’s international airport.
“They reached out to us, let us know that he was going to be arriving and could we assist, so upon his arrival to the Houston airport we monitored his movements,” a police department spokesperson told NBC.
The news of Cruz’s trip — which drew outrage from Democrats — comes as millions of people across Texas have been struggling without power and heat and suffered water system disruptions for several days amid record-low temperatures.
The state Democratic Party has called on Cruz to resign from Congress because of the situation, tweeting, “Texans are dying and you’re on a flight to Cancun. #TedCruzRESIGN.”
State Rep. Gene Wu tweeted late Wednesday, “Guess which US Senator from Texas flew to Cancun while the state was freezing to death and having to boil water?” and showed an image of Cruz walking down the aisle of a plane he was boarding.
Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., tweeted Thursday, “It must be easy not to believe in climate change if you can just leave millions of Texans suffering without power or water to sit on a beach in Cancún.”
Robert Mann, who served as communications director to Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco during Hurricane Katrina, told NBC News he can’t think of anyone as prominent as Cruz who left his own state after a disaster struck.
«This is usually the time that elected officials want to show their constituents how much they are committed to helping them,» said Mann, now a journalism professor at Louisiana State University. «It defies all common and political sense to leave the state for anywhere at a time like this, much less take a vacation to a toasty warm spot like Cancún. It’s among the dumbest, most callous things I’ve ever seen a politician do.»
The last thing tweeted from Cruz’s Senate account was about how he and eight other GOP lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee were calling for an investigation into New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the reporting on nursing home deaths due to Covid-19.
Cruz tweeted a video clip of a CNN segment in early December about how Democratic officials were caught not following their own guidelines when it came to Covid-19. Cruz called them, “Hypocrites. Complete and utter hypocrites.”
He said in his tweet not to forget that Austin Mayor Steve Adler “who took a private jet with eight people to Cabo and WHILE IN CABO recorded a video telling Austinites to ‘stay home if you can … this is not the time to relax.'»
Source: Rebecca Shabad is a congressional reporter for NBC News, based in Washington.