Ted Cruz requested police assistance at airport as viral photos showed him flying to Cancun amid winter storm

Police assist Texas senator as he flees the state despite growing death toll and millions of residents remaining without power

Chris Riotta
New York
Thursday 18 February 2021 18:27 GMT
Viral photographs appeared to show Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) traveling to Cancun, Mexico as his home state of Texas faced a historic winter storm.
Viral photographs appeared to show Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) traveling to Cancun, Mexico as his home state of Texas faced a historic winter storm. (Twitter)
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As a historic winter storm gripped Texas and left millions of residents without power, Senator Ted Cruz was fleeing the state for a sunny getaway in Cancun, Mexico with his wife — thanks to some help from the local police department. 

The Houston Police Department said it supplied personnel assistance to monitor the senator’s movements as he went through security at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Wednesday, after viral photos showed Mr Cruz and his wife apparently boarding a plane to the nation’s southernmost ally. 

But he was not headed to Mexico for work-related reasons, as the New York Times and other various news outlets verified the viral claims and cited anonymous sources, which said the Cruz family had a long-planned trip booked for Cancun that had just happened to arrive in midst of the deadly and unprecedented winter storm. 

The Houston Police Department said it assisted the senator during his travels through the Texas airport on Wednesday, as millions remains without power and heat, and later sent a statement that said the senator’s staff had “contacted HPD personnel at IAH on Wednesday ... and requested assistance upon the Senator’s arrival at the airport.”

The statement continued: “HPD officers monitored his movements through the terminal.”

The request from Mr Cruz’s office came as police department personnel were simultaneously responding to reports of at least 21 deaths and severe conditions caused by the storm.

The Associated Press and several outlets had reported by Thursday that Mr Cruz had left the state for Mexico, effectively confirming photos that showed him wearing a mask as he boarded a flight during the storm.

The Houston Police Department did not immediately return requests for comment. Mr Cruz’s Senate offices also did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

It is not unordinary for senators and other prominent figures to request police department personnel assistance while traveling.

However, many lawmakers also travel without security assistance when going through airports and other major transportation hubs. It’s unclear what prompted the senator’s office to request the assistance from HPD on Wednesday.

Mr Cruz’s traveled stirred immediate backlash from Democrats and the senator’s critics, who called on him to resign. Some reports said he was already booked on a flight back to the state on Thursday, though his office has not responded to multiple inquiries surrounding his whereabouts.

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who ran against the Republican incumbent senator in the 2018 midterm elections, slammed him in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday night for “vacationing in Cancun right now, when people are literally freezing to death in the state he was elected to represent and serve.”

Texas State Representative Gene Wu also retweeted the viral photos and wrote in a post of his own: “Guess which US Senator from Texas flew to Cancun while the state was freezing to death and having to boil water?

After his office went radio silent for several hours on Thursday, the senator released a statement defending his travels amid the storm.

“This has been an infuriating week for Texans,” he began. “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 said. “Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon.” 

He added: “My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas … My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe.”

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