Joaquin Castro defends tweets naming San Antonio Trump donors

The Trump campaign released a statement calling the tweet "reckless and irresponsible."

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By Maura Barrett and Ben Kamisar

WASHINGTON — Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, pushed back Tuesday on criticism of a recent tweet that listed the names and employers of some San Antonio-area donors to President Donald Trump's re-election.

Castro initially tweeted a graphic of the list, which includes the names of 44 San Antonio residents who donated the maximum amount of money allowable to Trump under campaign finance laws, on Monday night. In his tweet, he argued that those donations, which are publicly available, "are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as 'invaders.'"

Democrats have criticized the president's rhetoric in recent days after a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, claimed 22 lives and injured dozens more.

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Authorities said they believe the gunman posted an anti-immigrant screed online before the shooting. Castro's brother, Democratic presidential candidate and former Housing Secretary Julián Castro, said on "Meet the Press" Sunday that he saw a link between the screed and the language Trump uses to describe immigrants.

Joaquin Castro is as his brother's presidential campaign chairman.

Trump campaign and prominent conservatives criticized Castro's tweet, with Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh accusing Castro of publishing a "target list" in a statement that called the "naming of private citizens and their employers" both "reckless and irresponsible."

"He is endangering the safety of people — constituents — he is supposed to be representing. No one should be targeted for exercising their 1st Amendment rights or for their political beliefs," Murtaugh said.

The congressman defended himself Tuesday night in a tweet responding to criticism from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

"Donald Trump has put a target on the back of millions," Castro said, adding, "How about I stop mentioning Trump's public campaign donors and he stops using their money for ads that fuel hate."

Some Democrats came to Castro's defense. Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib tweeted, "the public needs to know who funds racism."

Sawyer Hackett, the Julián Castro campaign's national press secretary, said in a statement, “Trump and his right wing enablers whine about publicly available information being released because they want to distract from his role in fueling the kind of racism, bigotry and white nationalism that we saw in El Paso this weekend. It’s pathetic.”

Under federal law, campaigns must collect and report the names, addresses and employers of all people who donate $200 or more to their campaign. Donors can give $2,800 to a candidate per election cycle.

Jonathan Allen contributed.