The 44 names Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, tweeted late Monday have at least two things in common: they're all constituents in his district, and moreover, they all donated the maximum amount to President Donald Trump's campaign this year.
The congressman and brother of presidential hopeful Julián Castro said the people listed — including retirees, business owners and other individuals whose names are public record — were "fueling a campaign of hate."
“Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump — the owner of @BillMillerBarBQ, owner of the @HistoricPearl, realtor Phyllis Browning, etc..,” Castro wrote. “Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as invaders.”
Castro, who also serves as campaign chairman for his brother's presidential campaign, spent much of Tuesday deflecting intense criticism from GOP lawmakers and others. They contended that Castro was "targeting" the listed donors by tweeting their names to his thousands of followers; a serious accusation in the aftermath of two weekend mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left 31 people dead and many more wounded.
"This is grossly inappropriate, especially in the wake of recent tragic shootings," replied Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. "This win-at-all-costs mentality, publicly targeting an opponent's supporters, and encouraging retaliation is dangerous and not what Texans have a right to expect from their members of Congress."
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, offered similar sentiments, and the latter accused Castro of "doxxing" his own constituents.
Shortly before the gunman accused in the El Paso massacre began shooting, authorities say, he posted a manifesto warning of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” For Castro, the operative word there is “invasion” — a word President Trump has also used repeatedly to describe immigrants who enter through the southern border.
"[Donald Trump] cannot play the blame game," Castro tweeted Tuesday. "The El Paso terrorist manifesto included language that is eerily similar to the language the President has used to dehumanize and demonize Hispanic immigrants in this country. That violence just spilled over."
Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, said in a Tuesday evening tweet that Castro was "inviting harassment" of the private citizens listed.
"At worst, he's encouraging violence," Murtaugh wrote. "This is a target list."
In a separate statement to The Washington Post, Murtaugh said "this naming of private citizens and their employers is reckless and irresponsible. He is endangering the safety of people he is supposed to be representing. No one should be targeted for exercising their First Amendment rights or for their political beliefs. He should delete the tweet, apologize, and his brother's campaign should disavow it."
Murtaugh also said he reported Castro's tweet for harassment using Twitter's reporting feature.
When asked for comment on the Monday night tweet and the accompanying criticism, a spokesman for Castro referred to the congressman's Twitter feed. In several tweets Tuesday, Castro said the names he posted were publicly accessible and his tweet was not a "call to action."
He also referred to recent reports that the Trump campaign had paid for thousands of ads on Facebook that use the word "invasion" in reference to immigration.