Congressman Joaquin Castro.
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) was a trending topic on Twitter on Tuesday evening. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-San Antonio) posted a list Monday evening of San Antonio donors who gave the maximum individual contribution to President Donald Trump’s campaign.

The list included major San Antonio figures, such as CPS Energy trustee Ed Kelley, who previously headed up USAA Real Estate Co., and Balous Miller, former CEO of Bill Miller Bar-B-Q. 

“Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump — the owner of ?@BillMillerBarBQ?, owner of the ?@HistoricPearl, realtor Phyllis Browning, etc?,” Castro wrote in his Monday tweet. “Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”

The individual contributions to a presidential campaign are limited to $2,800 for primaries and $2,800 for the general election. Donations to presidential campaigns are publicly available through the Federal Election Commission website.

By Tuesday evening, Castro was a trending topic on Twitter after conservative news and opinion website Daily Caller wrote about his list. Tim Murtaugh, Trump’s campaign communications director, said Castro was inviting harassment and encouraging violence with his tweet.

“Will media concerned about ‘rhetoric’ care about this? He’s listing people and their employers,” Murtaugh tweeted. “This is a target list.”

Castro replied that the information is often reported by media outlets and included no personal information such as phone numbers or addresses. He also said the Trump campaign “stokes fear of brown-skinned immigrants.”

“Those contributions [have] been used to pay for over 2K @Facebook ads declaring an invasion by Hispanics,” Castro tweeted back at Murtaugh. “That is truly dangerous for millions. Will you commit not to run another ad like that?”

John Cornyn chimed in, calling Castro’s tweet “grossly inappropriate,” especially after the El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, shootings.

“This win-at-all-costs mentality, publicly targeting an opponent’s supporters, and encouraging retaliation is dangerous and not what Texans have a right to expect from their members of Congress,” Cornyn tweeted Tuesday.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) also criticized Castro’s tweet.

“People should not be personally targeted for their political views. Period,” Scalise tweeted Tuesday. “This isn’t a game. It’s dangerous, and lives are at stake. I know this firsthand.”

Scalise was among four people wounded during a congressional baseball practice in June 2017 by a gunman targeting Republicans.  

Castro continued to hit back at critics, saying he did not target or harass individuals and repeating that all the information posted is routinely published.

“You’re trying to distract from the racism that has overtaken the GOP and the fact that President Trump spends donor money on thousands of ads about Hispanics “invading” America,” Castro tweeted in response to a post by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California).

“Donald Trump has put a target on the back of millions. And you’re too cowardly or agreeable to say anything about it. How about I stop mentioning Trump’s public campaign donors and he stops using their money for ads that fuel hate?”

The congressman also appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning to address his tweets. He shared the list of donors as a “lament,” he said. 

“If you look at my language, I said that it’s sad that these folks, many of whom are prominent business owners in San Antonio, a city that is about 65 percent Hispanic – their customers, the people that have made them wealthy, their employees, the people that have worked for them for years, many of those folks are Hispanic, and they’re giving money to a guy running ads talking about Hispanics invading this country,” Castro said. 

“All of us go to the restaurants that these people own, the businesses they own. We patronize these places. And they’re giving their money to this guy who’s taking their money and using it to buy Facebook ads talking about how Hispanics are invading this country. And there’s a cost to that. We saw the cost to that in El Paso over the weekend. People died.”

Castro serves as Julián Castro’s campaign chairman; his twin brother is running for the Democratic nomination for president. Julián Castro did not provide comment Tuesday.

U.S. Rep. Castro’s team declined to comment further, pointing to Castro’s Twitter for statements instead.

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.