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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 CastroHispanic Caucus endorses essential worker immigration bill Asian American lawmakers say State's 'assignment restrictions' discriminate Democrats ask Biden to reverse employee policy on past marijuana use 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 DeutchPelosi: Greene's 'verbal assault' of Ocasio-Cortez could be a matter for Ethics Committee Democrats fume over silence from DeSantis on Florida election Republican, Democratic lawmakers urge fully funding US assistance to Israel MORE (D-Fla.) and ranking member Rep. Kenny MarchantKenny Ewell MarchantRepublican Van Duyne wins race for Texas House seat Cook Political Report shifts 8 more House races toward Democrats Democrats seek wave to bolster House majority 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) GaetzGaetz associate to cooperate with investigation, plead guilty to child sex trafficking Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg expected to plead guilty next week Buckingham Palace requests 'Trump Train' remove image of queen from bus MORE (Fla.), Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceDemocrat moves to censure three Republicans for downplaying Jan. 6 GOP downplays Jan. 6 violence: Like a 'normal tourist visit' GOP's Gosar defends Jan. 6 rioter, says she was 'executed' MORE (Ga.), Debbie Lesko (Ariz.), Jeff DuncanJeffrey (Jeff) Darren DuncanGOP lawmaker demands review over FBI saying baseball shooting was 'suicide by cop' Georgia county says removal of All-Star Game will cost tourism 0M GOP senators push to end MLB antitrust status MORE (S.C.), Randy WeberRandall (Randy) Keith WeberTexas Republicans condemn state Democrats for response to official calling Scott an 'Oreo' House Republicans ask Pelosi to reschedule Biden's address to Congress McCarthy seeks shift from party's civil war MORE (Texas) and Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden to country: 'Turning peril into possibility' Budd to run for Senate in NC GOP senator introduces bill to make DC part of Maryland 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 TrumpVirginia GOP gubernatorial nominee acknowledges Biden was 'legitimately' elected Biden meets with DACA recipients on immigration reform Overnight Health Care: States begin lifting mask mandates after new CDC guidance | Walmart, Trader Joe's will no longer require customers to wear masks | CDC finds Pfizer, Moderna vaccines 94 percent effective in health workers 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.