A week ago, Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20) tweeted out a list of the names and employers of 44 San Antonians who had donated the maximum amount to President Trump’s reelection campaign. Eleven retirees and one “homemaker” were listed among these private citizens.
The graphic of the list was first posted to a Facebook page for a local Indivisible group in San Antonio, a progressive activist organization.
On the same evening, Castro reposted the image to his Twitter account, tagging several of the businesses owned by donors on the list.
Defenders of the congressman have been quick to argue that Castro’s action was not “doxxing,” since the information he released was publicly available.
However, as personal data has become more accessible, doxxing has not been strictly limited to things such as social security numbers or street addresses.
The key part of the definition according to Merriam-Webster, is that doxxing is publicly sharing “information about someone especially as a form of punishment or revenge.”
Since coming under intense criticism for his tweet, Castro has defended it by calling it a “lament” that prominent business owners in San Antonio support President Trump, “who’s taking their money and using it to buy Facebook ads talking about how Hispanics are invading this country.”
Whether the tweet was a “lament” or not, directly highlighting specific donors in the manner that Castro did has resulted in claims that he intended it as an act of punishment to bring shame.
One donor on the list was harassed in a profane voicemail wherein the caller threatened to “post this number and extension all over the internet.”
Ironically, some of the donors also happened to have donated to the campaigns of Joaquin Castro and his twin brother, Julián Castro, who is currently seeking a presidential nomination.
Harper Huddleston appeared on Fox News and discussed how he has been mistaken for one of the donors on the list, his father. Huddleston said he had previously donated to the mayoral campaign of Julián Castro and that he also supports President Trump.
“Naturally, when the news story broke, all of the attention was directed towards me,” said Huddleston, adding, “which is fine—I’d rather that be the case than my retirement-age father.”
He told the hosts that he sat down with his family after the doxxing to prepare how they might respond to harassment, should it occur.
Asked if the incident would deter him from supporting President Trump, Huddleston said, “Absolutely not. The overwhelming response I’ve received is ‘thank-you,’ even though I didn’t contribute …I think all this does is galvanize the interest in reinvigorating ‘Make America Great Again,’ which is what I think all the donors were interested in supporting.”
Despite the expressed beef he has with San Antonian Trump donors, Castro’s lament appears to be backfiring.
R. H. Bowman, another donor on the list that was targeted also said that Castro’s tweet only invigorated Trump’s support base.
“It looks like another million dollars is now headed to support the Trump 2020 campaign from those of us who were targeted, and other Texans, including Hispanics, incidentally, whose resolve to support [the president] is only strengthened by this personal attack,” Bowman told The Washington Examiner.
Several Republican leaders have also expressed concern for Castro’s actions.
Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX-14) cosigned a letter to the House Ethics Committee with six other GOP representatives from other states asking for an investigation into Castro’s tweet.
“Whether he intended to provoke physical violence or merely verbal harassment, his intent was to chill the free speech and free association of Americans. This behavior cannot be tolerated by a member of this institution,” reads the letter.
Other Republicans have been equally staunch against the doxxing.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21), whose district also contains parts of San Antonio, told San Antonians, “I will fight for freedom for you, including making sure you are not doxxed by public officials.”
On Twitter, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) expressed his disapproval of Castro’s actions. “This is grossly inappropriate, especially in the wake of recent tragic shootings. 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,” he wrote.
James Dickey, the chairman of the Texas Republican Party, stated, “Our elected officials are sent to Washington to serve their constituents, but unfortunately Joaquin Castro has made it clear he would prefer to publicly attack his constituents and neighbors because they don’t share his ideology. This is absolutely egregious and Castro should immediately delete this tweet and apologize.”
Dickey also called on Julián Castro to condemn the tweets, but the Democratic presidential nominee did the opposite.
While on the presidential campaign trail in Iowa, Julián defended his brother’s tweet, saying, “The right-wing wants to make this a story because they want to pretend that, in some way, that’s equivalent to the hate and division that Trump is fostering in this country.”
Texas State Representative Poncho Nevárez (D-Eagle Pass) apparently defended Castro on Twitter emphasizing the talking point that the information was public.
The Texan requested clarification from Nevárez, but received no response from his office at the time of this writing.
Requests for comment from the Texas Democratic Party and all members of the Democratic congressional delegation from Texas have gone unanswered.
Since the incident last week, a Republican challenger, Dan McQueen, has filed to run for Castro’s seat.
Castro has not had a Republican opponent since the seat was open in 2012.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.