United Airlines has begun investigating who leaked Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz‘s flight information for his retrurn trip from Cancun, Mexico to Texas earlier this week.
Cruz faced widespread criticism for traveling to the Mexican beach spot while millions of his constituents in his home state went without power, water or heat amid severe winter storms. A few Texans have also died from weather-related causes during the storms.
Around noon on Thursday, Edward Russell, lead airlines reporter at the travel industry publication Skift, said on Twitter that a source at United Airlines told him that “Senator Ted Cruz rebooked his flight back to Houston from Cancun for this afternoon at around 6 a.m. today (Thursday).”
“[Cruz] was originally scheduled to return on Saturday,” Russell added.
United Airlines told Newsweek on Friday that “It’s against United’s policies to share personal information about our customers and we are investigating this incident.”
Online commenters and politicians had already started criticizing Cruz on Wednesday night when pictures appeared online of Cruz and his wife, Heidi Cruz, at the airport. The pictures showed Cruz and his wife in Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport waiting to board their flight.
Cruz garnered even more criticism on Thursday after the senator attempted to explain his trip.
“With school canceled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them,” Cruz said. “My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” he added.
When confronted on Thursday by a reporter in the Cancun airport, Cruz said he was returning home to help restore power to Texans cut off by the storms. He later called the trip “a mistake” and said he decided to come back after witnessing the controversy his trip had caused online.
The Texas Democratic Party called Cruz’s actions “disturbing and disappointing” and told him to resign. Democratic Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar and Cruz’s former political rival Beto O’Rourke also criticized him.
“[Cruz] is vacationing in Cancun right now when people are literally freezing to death in the state that he was elected to represent and serve,” O’Rourke told MSNBC.
After returning to his Houston home, Cruz was met by angry protesters chanting for his resignation. Numerous Texas newspapers have criticized Cruz for leaving the state during a moment of crisis. The progressive political action committee No Excuses has also pledged to run a new ad in 147 Texas radio stations slamming Cruz for his travel.
The senator was also mocked on Twitter where users compared him to Central and South American immigrants who try and cross the southern U.S. border to experience better living conditions. Photos of a billboard and posters mocking his trip have also gone viral on social media.
Unprecedented snowfall and record-breaking cold temperatures initially left over 4 million Texas residents without power and heat as the state’s electrical grid experienced a major failure earlier this week. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), a non-profit board that oversees the electrical grid, has said it is unsure when power will be fully restored.
In a Thursday update, the state’s Republican Governor Greg Abbott said that he had requested a major disaster declaration from the federal government. The declaration would allow those harmed by the storms to apply for federal funds to compensate any losses not covered by insurance.