Major snowstorms and freezing temperatures have knocked out electricity, heat, and water services in Texas; at one point, nearly 3 million customers in the state had lost power, while as many as 7 million residents are currently being advised to boil their water because local authorities can’t guarantee it’s not contaminated.
In the midst of this, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz flew from Houston to Cancún, Mexico:
The report made by David Shuster, a TV journalist, has since been confirmed elsewhere.
In response, some right-wing pundits have tried to argue that it’s actually good for public officials to abandon their constituents during a crisis:
These are not great arguments. Cruz might not have a statutory role in on-the-ground disaster response, but he could make himself useful by communicating state-level needs to contacts in the federal government, guiding his staff’s response to incoming requests from desperate constituents, publicizing volunteer efforts and charitable fundraising, and amplifying public safety messages. He could even set an example by, like, volunteering himself! A winter emergency is the perfect chance for a politician to demonstrate his belief that we’re all in this together. The fact that even other people who were leaving Texas to fly to Cancún felt compelled to circulate photos of Cruz’s journey suggests how obvious an act of dereliction it was.
On Thursday morning, publicly available flight information appeared to show that Cruz was headed back stateside (the first initial “R.” corresponds to his full name, Rafael Edward Cruz):
At about 1 p.m. Thursday, Cruz’s office finally released a statement attributed to the senator. According to Cruz, he went to Cancún in order to “be a good dad” to his daughters, who had “asked to take a trip with friends” after their school week was canceled. (Cruz has two daughters, of whom the oldest was born in 2008.) He confirmed that he will be returning to the U.S. on Thursday afternoon but did not comment on whether he has yet received an upgrade to business class.