Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas insisted during a podcast episode uploaded last week that he never met a single member of the far-right Proud Boys hate group. He condemned the group’s members and called them both “bigoted morons” and “bigoted idiots.”
“As far as I know, I’ve never met a Proud Boy. I think they’re bigoted morons,” Cruz said. “My colleagues—if you had a Democratic senator sitting here, none of them will condemn antifa. So, I’ll condemn those guys. Those are not my guys. They have no alliance.”
But Cruz is wrong. At a Turning Point USA party during 2019’s Conservative Political Action Conference, Cruz was photographed with the group’s current leader Enrique Tarrio, images uploaded to social media show. In a phone interview on Wednesday, Tarrio told Right Wing Watch that he met Cruz at the party and spoke to him briefly about his desire to see government action against anti-fascist activists.
Additionally, Tarrio told RWW that he participated in an open conference call where Cruz was present last summer following national news coverage of protesters in Portland, Oregon, attacking right-wing activist and journalist Andy Ngo. Tarrio said that he introduced himself by name on the call but did not disclose his role with the Proud Boys. Tarrio claimed he did not speak on the call beyond his introduction but said he emailed information related to the call’s topic to Cruz’s office via a third party.
In July 2019, Republican Sens. Cruz and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana introduced a nonbinding resolution in the U.S. Senate calling for anti-fascist activists to be designated domestic terrorists. The resolution was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and never saw a floor vote.
“For him to throw us under the bus while trying to get information for what I guess was his bill is fucking retarded,” Tarrio said.
Cruz’s comments resulted in blowback from the Proud Boys and their sympathizers. Far-right columnist Michelle Malkin, who said this week that she believes members of the group “deserve medals,” went so far as to say that it was actually Cruz himself who was the “bigoted moron.”
“He agrees with pretty much 100 percent of the views that we agree with,” Tarrio said. “I find it very fucking unfair.”
Tarrio added, “I’ve knocked on doors for Ted Cruz. I’ve sent emails for Ted Cruz. … I’m just purely disappointed.”
Right Wing Watch emailed a request for comment to Cruz’s press office Wednesday but did not receive a response prior to publication.