Hours after Texas senator Ted Cruz issued a statement saying he spontaneously flew to Cancun, Mexico on his daughters' request, a series of text messages appearing to show his wife boasting about the trip to neighbors and friends beforehand have emerged.
On Wednesday, the Republican senator sparked widespread criticism after being spotted boarding a flight to Cancun with his family while many of his constituents were stuck at home, struggling to cope with power outages and frigid conditions amid a harsh winter storm.
The text messages, which were first reported by the New York Times, have now been leaked on social media and contradict Cruz's explanation.
'We May Go to Cancun'
In a group chat that was titled as the name of the street the Cruz family lived on, Ted's wife, Heidi Cruz, appears to have taken an active role in planning the getaway. In one of the texts, the sender, identified in screenshots as Heidi Cruz, says the family had moved in with a neighbor who had power before asking them if they wanted to join them on a trip to Cancun.
"We are down at [name] and their power just went out now last night. Is everyone warm?" the text reads. "Anyone can or want to leave for the week? We may go to Cancun, there is a direct flight at 445pm and hotels with capacity. Seriously."
In a later text, the contact tells the group that the Ritz Carlton is offering accommodation for $300 a night and that they have "there many times" and it is a "great property" with good security. The sender also shares the flight information, which mentions a United Airlines flight 1020 that leaves Houston's international airport at 4:45 p.m. and returns to the city on Sunday. Here are the screenshots:
Ted Cruz's Statement
Following backlash over his decision to fly to Cancun amid a deadly winter storm, Cruz returned home within 24 hours. He released a statement on Thursday saying his daughters asked him to take a trip and he obliged because he wanted to be a "good dad" and decided to fly back the following day.
"With school canceled for the week, our girls asked us to take a trip with friends," the said in his statement. "Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon. My staff are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas."
Upon his return to Houston on Thursday, he reiterated to reporters (amid protesters chants of "resign") at the airport that his daughters asked him on Wednesday if they could take a trip with friends to Cancun. Cruz said he and his wife agreed, and he decided to accompany them before his planned return the next day. However, Cruz got his flight changed from Saturday to Thursday afternoon, as pointed out by Skift reporter Edward Russell.
According to CBS News producer Sara Cook, he later acknowledged that he the decision to fly to Cancun was "obviously a mistake" and that he had his flight changed because he started having second thoughts.
Cruz said he started having second thoughts from "the moment I sat down on the plane." "Leaving when so many people were hurting didn't feel right and so I changed my flight to come back today," he added.