Joaquin Castro Draws Criticism For Tweeting Trump Donor List

Aug 8, 2019

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, who represents San Antonio, is being criticized by Republican politicians after tweeting a list of San Antonio-based donors to President Trump’s reelection campaign.

The list, which includes the names and employers of 44 donors, was coupled with a strong message by Castro – accusing the donors of “fueling a campaign of hate” with their contributions. As a result, GOP leaders are complaining the tweet jeopardizes the safety and economic welfare of the donors. 

Joshua Blank, research director for the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, says all the material Castro posted is public information.

“As many flaws as we have with our current campaign finance system in the United States, one of the things we do relatively well is we require disclosure,” Blank says. “Anyone with a simple internet search could actually find most of this information.”

But this doesn’t rule out danger for the people he listed, Blank says.

“We’re living in a sort of political environment at this point that people will be targeted for their political support,” Blank says. “Is that true or is that false? I don’t know, and I think it’s a shifting goal post.”

And Blank says another reason politicians are pointing fingers at Castro for the tweet is because it’s unorthodox. He says releasing the names of donors typically targets larger contributors, such as hedge fund billionaire, George Soros or casino mogul, Sheldon Adelson. 

“The idea is these mega donors are making tons and tons of contributions to either Democratic or Republican candidates, and you highlight this to affiliate the association and injure the candidate,” Blank says. “[Castro’s tweet] is different because he’s highlighting the donors for the sake of highlighting those donors.”

The argument that Castro’s tweet could lead people to attack the donors is valid, Blank says, but targeting someone for political donations is rare.

“The reason we have these protections in terms of the ability to give money in vastly unregulated ways to candidates is because it's considered publicly protected speech,” Blank says. “But it’s not speech if it’s not public.”

Written by Hayden Baggett.