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Sen. Ted Cruz is facing criticism after unverified images suggested he left Texas on Wednesday.
Claims circulated on Twitter that he had flown to Cancun. News outlets said they confirmed it. Cruz hasn't commented.
Insider was not able to immediately verify the images, but they prompted outrage all the same.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas faced a barrage of criticism as unverified images said to show him taking a flight out of the storm-ravaged state circulated on Twitter on Wednesday.
Insider was unable to immediately verify the images and could not immediately reach Cruz or one of his representatives for comment.
As of early Thursday, no media outlet had reported receiving a response from Cruz. Fox News and The Associated Press, citing unnamed sources, reported that Cruz had indeed flown with his family to Cancun, Mexico.
Even without verification, the images were politically explosive. The Texas Democratic Party called for Cruz's resignation, accusing him of abandoning the state in a crisis.
Cancun became a trending topic on Twitter on Wednesday night.
It was not clear from the images where Cruz was. But here's what Insider could find, based on information circulating on Thursday morning.
The images appeared to have been first shared by a Twitter user with the name Juan Gomez. It was not clear whether the user took the pictures.
—Juan Gomez (@Juan_Gomez18) February 18, 2021
David Shuster, a former MSNBC journalist, tweeted that he had confirmed that Cruz and his family flew to Cancun on Wednesday night "for a few days at a resort they've visited before."
Shuster did not give details about how he confirmed this or with whom.
—David Shuster (@DavidShuster) February 18, 2021
Keith Edwards, a former advisor to Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff who was previously involved with the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, posted other images that he said were sent to him by someone who saw Cruz on their flight to Cancun.
—Keith Edwards (@keithedwards) February 18, 2021
Edwards also posted a picture that he said showed Cruz in the airport about 35 minutes before the flight to Cancun.
—Keith Edwards (@keithedwards) February 18, 2021
One Twitter user noted that a board in the background of one of the images appeared to display the time as 4:10 p.m.
—Nesler (@thatnesler) February 18, 2021
KSAT, an ABC affiliate in San Antonio, published an article on Wednesday night speculating on whether Cruz had gone to Cancun. The outlet noted that a United Airlines flight from Houston to Cancun left at 4:44 p.m.
Another unverified image claimed to show Cruz after arriving in Cancun.
—Simon Barnboym (@barnboym) February 18, 2021
The man in the photo was wearing different clothes but similar shoes as the man in the other pictures, with the same white bag with a yellow tag.
The people who posted all the above images did not immediately respond to Insider's request for more information. Numerous calls and emails to Cruz's office were not immediately answered.
Beto O'Rourke, the Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Cruz for his Senate seat in 2018, gestured to the speculation on Thursday morning.
In an interview with MSNBC, O'Rourke described Cruz as "the junior senator from the state of Texas, who I understand is vacationing in Cancun right now when people are literally freezing to death in the state that he was elected to represent and serve."
—The Recount (@therecount) February 18, 2021
Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas tweeted on Thursday that Cruz had flown to Cancun.
—Joaquin Castro (@Castro4Congress) February 18, 2021
TinEye, a reverse-image-search service that can indicate whether images have been published before, did not find the images in these tweets on other websites, suggesting that they are recent.
Cruz has a wife and two daughters. Some of the unverified photos included a young girl who appeared similar to one of his daughters, but they did not show other people who resembled his family members.
Some Twitter users said the mask the man was wearing matched one that Cruz has often worn.
—Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) February 18, 2021
Others said the ring worn by the man in the picture looked to be the same as one Cruz had been pictured wearing.
—Jane Austen (@JaneAusten1813) February 18, 2021
Some speculated that another image showed Cruz in the airport's United lounge. It wasn't clear where the image originated or who took it.
—Gilly (@gillypearl) February 18, 2021
Cruz appears to have previously vacationed in Cancun. Page Six reported in January 2020 that Cruz was seen with his family at the Nizuc Resort & Spa.
The Senate is on recess, and, as a senator, Cruz has no direct role in managing the state's disaster response.
But the images prompted a furious backlash all the same.
The official account of the Texas Democratic Party shared Shuster's tweet and added, "Texans are dying and you're on a flight to Cancun." It included the hashtag #TedCruzRESIGN.
—Texas Democrats (@texasdemocrats) February 18, 2021
Democratic state Rep. Gene Wu tweeted criticism of Cruz based on the images, though he did not offer further evidence.
—Gene Wu (@GeneforTexas) February 18, 2021
Sawyer Hackett, a senior advisor for Julian Castro, the former Democratic mayor of San Antonio and the former secretary of housing and urban development, shared two images, writing that "it appears in the middle of the worst energy crisis in the history of Texas, @tedcruz is on his way to Cancun with his family."
—Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) February 18, 2021
Cruz's Twitter accounts didn't give an indication of his location and were retweeting updates about the storm or sharing other political updates on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, around the time Cruz was said to have been traveling, Cruz's office sent two press releases on his behalf, one attacking Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York and another paying tribute to Rush Limbaugh.
Read the original article on Business Insider