Last week, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) published to his Twitter account a list of 44 names of people who had made the maximum donation to President Trump’s reelection campaign.
“Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders,’” Castro asserted in his tweet.
The donors were from Castro’s congressional district.
“This is WRONG,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) condemned in response. “Elected representatives should not be vilifying & doxxing their own constituents.”
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who survived a June 2017 assassination attempt by a crazed Bernie Sanders supporter who specifically targeted and opened fire on a baseball field full of Congressional Republicans and staffers, also pushed back on Castro’s actions.
“People should not be personally targeted for their political views. Period. This isn’t a game. It’s dangerous, and lives are at stake. I know this firsthand,” Scalise tweeted.
At least one prominent North Carolina Democrat, Durham’s Mayor Pro Tem Jillian Johnson, endorsed Castro’s efforts, saying the same needs to be done here in North Carolina.
“This is a fabulous precedent to set,” Johnson tweeted the day after Castro’s tweet. “We need a list like this for NC donors.”
Castro’s defenders were quick to point out the information was publicly available through the FEC, but that misses an important point.
As columnist David Harsanyi wrote in the aftermath of Castro publishing the list, “For one thing, campaign finance laws are meant to keep politicians honest, not to be used as ‘enemies’ lists by politicians.”
Castro, who is the chairman of his twin brother Julián’s presidential campaign, said his intent was not for people to harass or target anyone on the list (which is already happening). His justification, he claimed, was to get the donors to “think twice” about who and what they are supporting.
Castro’s excuses are insults to everyone’s intelligence. He put the list out just two days after the horrific mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, that left 22 dead and dozens more injured.
Debates about how political rhetoric allegedly “inspires” deranged people to commit acts of mass murder were at a fever pitch that same weekend, with almost all who talked about it imploring politicians — namely Republicans — to “tone down” their rhetoric.
Only the willingly deluded could possibly believe Castro didn’t intend to incite people to boycott, harass and target those he’d named two days after what happened in El Paso.
Not long after he went public with the list, a conservative new media outlet reported that several names on his list were former donors to past political campaigns of both Castro brothers, suggesting a revenge motive may also have been at play in the posting of the names.
To make matters worse, his brother and presidential candidate Julián defended Joaquin’s actions by using the same excuse, that the information was publicly available.
Members of the national press have pointed this out as well. So, unfortunately, we can’t count on them to hold the Castro brothers accountable. There are two reasons for this.
For starters, the national media don’t want to lose their access to public donor records via reformed transparency laws that would better protect donor privacy. And perhaps more importantly, they want to protect Democrats.
Both reasons are purely self-serving, of course, and are at odds with the more important issue of their duty to critically examine an elected official’s stated rationale for publishing enemies lists of private donors.
I guess if something bad happens to any of these Trump donors as a result of Castro’s actions, their distraught family members are supposed to feel better because of the disingenuous justifications given for posting them.
As the Castros, other Democrats and the mainstream media have helpfully reminded us, the information was “publicly available” and “legal” to publish or something.
Stacey Matthews is a veteran blogger who has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to Red State and Legal Insurrection.