While millions of Texans struggle with a lack of power, heat and water amid deadly winter weather, Sen. Ted Cruz flew to Cancún, Mexico.
Fox News first reported the senator’s flight on Thursday morning, with a Republican source telling the outlet that the photos posted to social media on Wednesday evening showing Cruz at the Houston airport and on a plane “speak for themselves.” The Associated Press also reported that Cruz had traveled to the resort city “with his family for a long-planned trip to Cancun and was expected to return immediately.”
Officials have already attributed dozens of deaths to the harsh winter weather, with that number expected to grow following the collapse of the state's power grid after freezing temperatures hit Texas earlier this week.
After the photos made the rounds on Twitter, online sleuths noted that in addition to bearing a strong resemblance to Cruz, the man in the photos had the same mask, ring and Fitbit that the junior senator from Texas could be seen wearing in other photos. Air-travel aficionados also noted that Cruz was standing near a gate that had a flight departing from Houston to Cancún Wednesday evening and that an “R. Cru” was on the upgrade list for the flight. (Cruz’s actual first name is Rafael.)
Cruz himself confirmed the trip in a statement Thursday afternoon.
"This has been an infuriating week for Texans," his statement read. "The greatest state in the greatest country in the world has been without power. We have food lines, gas lines, and people sleeping at the neighbors' houses. Our homes are freezing and our lights are out. Like millions of Texans, our family lost heat and power too.
"With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends," he continued. "Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon. My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas. We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm. My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe."
Asked about Cruz's decision to travel to Mexico during Texas's weather crisis, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, "I don’t have any updates on the exact location of Sen. Ted Cruz, nor does anyone at the White House."
"Our focus is on working directly with leadership in Texas and the surrounding states on addressing the winter storm," Psaki added. "We expect that would be the focus of anyone in the state or surrounding states who was elected to represent them."
The Senate is in recess this week after voting to acquit in former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Saturday.
“If you can stay home, don’t go out on the roads, don’t risk the ice,” Cruz told Texas residents earlier in the week. “Don’t risk it. Keep your family safe, and just stay home and hug your kids.”
Cruz was criticized by Democratic politicians and operatives, with his 2018 Senate rival, Beto O’Rourke, telling MSNBC, “I understand he’s vacationing in Cancún right now when people are literally freezing to death in the state he was elected to represent and serve.”
Cruz has been criticized for previously making light of California’s power outages last year. In tweets last August, he accused Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — then both Democratic candidates — of wanting to make California’s “failed energy policy the standard nationwide.”
“I got no defense,” Cruz tweeted Tuesday when the comments were resurfaced. “A blizzard strikes Texas & our state shuts down. Not good. Stay safe!”
Last fall, he criticized Austin Mayor Steve Adler for flying to Mexico during a COVID-19 lockdown.
Read more from Yahoo News: