Group chats are typically a safe place for most people, where friends banter back and forth about the intimate details of our lives, or to commiserate about the freezing cold they are all enduring due to a winter storm knocking out the power in Texas. But Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was in for a rude awakening Thursday after his wife Heidi’s group chat texts were leaked to the media.
It all started when photos of the couple and their kids boarding a flight to Cancún, Mexico went viral online. The senator received backlash for the decision to literally flee the country as his state faced a severe humanitarian crisis. Millions of people were without power for days, many are without clean water and access to food. People are having difficulty staying warm. But Cruz and his family, who say they lost power like everyone else, also decided to take a trip, with the senator saying in a statement that he abandoned Texas “to be a good dad” and take his daughters and their friends to Mexico on their week off from school. He added that he would be back in Texas Thursday night, despite appearing to bring a week's worth of luggage.
"I was trying to be a dad, and all of us have made decisions," Cruz said on Thursday. "[I've] got two girls, who've been cold for two days, and haven't had heat or power, and they're saying 'Hey look! We don't have school! Why don't we get out of here?'"
But that whole story unravelled when Heidi’s text messages, which show her actively planning a getaway to Cancún with her neighbours were leaked. “Is everyone warm? That's a must! We could all huddle in one house,” she suggested in one text, Business Insider reported. Another text read: “Anyone can or want to leave for the week? We may go to Cancun, there is a direct flight at 445pm and hotels with capacity. Seriously.”
A later text from Heidi told the group, “the Ritz Carlton has rooms at like $300 and we've been there many times great property good security etc no issues.” She added, “I'll confirm on the covid we need to call the hotel this am to confirm that but you just test when you arrive as needs to be 3days before return.” When another person in the chat asked who was sending the messages, she replied: “Heidi Cruz.” Other text messages provided to Business Insider included detailed information about the Cruz family’s flight. The New York Times also confirmed that they received the same text messages from one person in the group chat and a second member verified them. (Yikes!)
As of Friday morning, most Texans started getting their power back, though millions of people across the state are now facing an escalating water crisis. Pipes were cracked and frozen, and water treatment plants lost power for much of the week, leaving millions without drinkable water. The state issued a boil water advisory, but as some people commented on Twitter, millions of people also had no way of doing so. And, so far, at least 30 people in Texas have died as a result of the winter storm.
While Texans continue to recover with the help of friends, neighbors, and solidarity, hopefully Heidi has also learned a valuable lesson about her group chat — and perhaps Ted has learned a little something about leadership and human decency. (Probably not.)