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House conservatives call for ethics probe into Joaquin Castro tweet

House conservatives on Friday called on the chamber's Ethics Committee to investigate Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroFormer DNC finance chairman Henry Muñoz: Latinos 'need to lead ourselves' Overnight Defense: Trump says he's leaving Walter Reed, 'feeling really good' after COVID-19 treatment | White House coronavirus outbreak grows | Dems expand probe into Pompeo speeches House Democrats push forward on probe of Pompeo's political speeches MORE (D-Texas) for tweeting the names of Trump campaign donors.

“Posting a target list of private citizens simply for supporting his political opponent is antithetical to our principles and serves to suppress the free speech and free association rights of Americans," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to House Ethics Committee Chairman Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchShakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum Matt Gaetz, Roger Stone back far-right activist Laura Loomer in congressional bid MORE (D-Fla.) and ranking member Rep. Kenny MarchantKenny Ewell MarchantDemocrats, GOP fighting over largest House battlefield in a decade Warren, Porter to headline progressive fundraiser supporting seven swing state candidates House Ethics panel recommends ,000 fine for Rep. Schweikert's campaign finance violations MORE (R-Texas).

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“These acts must immediately be investigated to determine if Rep. Castro has violated the ethical rules of this institution,” they added.

The letter spearheaded by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) was signed by GOP Reps. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzHouse Judiciary Republicans mockingly tweet 'Happy Birthday' to Hillary Clinton after Barrett confirmation Congressional antitrust report rips tech firms for stifling competition Loeffler tweets edited video showing Trump taking down coronavirus in wrestling match MORE (Fla.), Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceHillicon Valley: Department of Justice sues Google | House Republicans push for tech bias hearing | Biden drawing more Twitter engagement for first time House Republicans push VA for details on recent data breach IRS closes in on final phase of challenging tax season MORE (Ga.), Debbie Lesko (Ariz.), Jeff DuncanJeffrey (Jeff) Darren DuncanHillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it Biden's Iran policy is deeply flawed MORE (S.C.), Randy WeberRandall (Randy) Keith WeberHouse rebuffs GOP lawmaker's effort to remove references to Democrats in Capitol Hillicon Valley: Judge's ruling creates fresh hurdle for TikTok | House passes bills to secure energy sector against cyberattacks | Biden campaign urges Facebook to remove Trump posts spreading 'falsehoods' House passes bills to secure energy sector against cyberattacks MORE (Texas) and Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddHouse Dems introduce bill to require masks on planes and in airports Bipartisan bill introduced to require TSA to take temperature checks How to combat substance abuse during COVID-19 MORE (N.C.).

The lawmakers argued that publishing donor lists suppresses free speech and the right to freely associate.

“By publishing a list of private citizens who donated to his political opponent, Rep. Castro sought to encourage harassment against those citizens simply on the basis of their political beliefs," they wrote. "It cannot be fairly argued that Rep. Castro had any other purpose in posting that list and telling his activist followers that those individuals were inciting hate. Whether he intended to provoke physical violence or merely verbal harassment, his intent was to chill the free speech and free association rights of Americans."

A spokeswoman for Castro dismissed the Republicans' request to the Ethics panel, calling it "baseless" and suggesting that "these Members of Congress know that."

"The information shared by Representative Castro is publicly available through the Federal Election Commission and the kind that’s routinely reported in media outlets of every political persuasion," Castro spokeswoman Katherine Schneider argued.

"Their letter is a disingenuous attempt by pro-dark money, far-right legislators to limit Americans’ ability to track money in politics. They would prefer large contributions to be kept secret so that there’s no meaningful transparency in political giving. We look forward to hearing from the Committee if the request is considered.” 

Castro, the brother of Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro, came under fire this week from House GOP leaders and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump admin to announce coronavirus vaccine will be covered under Medicare, Medicaid: report Election officials say they're getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report McConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote MORE's campaign for tweeting the names and business interests of dozens of donors to Trump's reelection campaign.

On Monday evening, following that weekend's mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, Joaquin Castro tweeted the names of 44 Texans who donated the maximum $2,700 to Trump, specifically calling out the owners of several prominent businesses in San Antonio, where the Castro brothers are from.

Federal candidates are required to disclose the names and employers of donors who contribute $200 or more in Federal Election Commission filings, which are publicly available online.

However, it is unusual for a lawmaker to publish the names and business interests of individual donors of another campaign.

“Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders’,” Castro tweeted.

At the time, there were reports that the suspected gunman had allegedly posted a manifesto online shortly before the attack that included anti-immigrant rhetoric and warned of a “Hispanic invasion.”

The suspect has since reportedly told police that he carried out the shooting and that he was targeting "Mexicans."

Julián Castro defended the tweet after Trump blasted the move.

"Joaquin and I will keep fighting. The American people will fight every day for our nation, against your hate, your corruption, and your ego. And we’ll win. #AdiósTrump," he tweeted.

Updated: 7:05 p.m.