Cruz Opens Line of Attack on O’Rourke’s Mother

Texas senator criticizes Democratic challenger over tax penalties for mother’s furniture store

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, left, criticized his Democratic opponent Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, for not disclosing his mother's business settlement. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, left, criticized his Democratic opponent Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, for not disclosing his mother's business settlement. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted June 7, 2018 at 9:15am

The race between Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Beto O’Rourke got intensely personal as the Republican incumbent criticized his Democratic challenger’s mother’s business.

Cruz’s campaign released a press statement with the headline “Hypocrite Alert: Beto O’Rourke Pushes for More Taxes but Ignores Mom’s Tax Fraud,” which refers to Melissa O’Rourke’s furniture store being fined for manipulating records to avoid paying taxes.

“It is an interesting policy position given his family history of breaking tax laws while running a furniture store in El Paso,” the release said.

Ultimately the store was forced to pay $250,000 in fines, the El Paso Times reported. Melissa O’Rourke closed the store in 2017 but said at the time it was unrelated to her son’s candidacy.

“Rep. Beto O’Rourke has been campaigning on ethics in government, but he’s been hiding his mother’s conviction for tax fraud, his personal stake in her furniture company and his profiting from the company,” Cruz spokesman Emily Miller said in the news release.

O’Rourke defended his mother in an interview with the El Paso Times.

“That store made a mistake and the issue was resolved,” he said.

Cruz’s campaign said O’Rourke should have disclosed the settlement when his mother campaigned with him. But O’Rourke said the story was covered extensively when the fines were announced in 2010.

“I don’t know why I would raise that on the campaign trail,” he told the Times. “But certainly, I’m being very responsive to your questions, and I’ve responded to anyone’s questions about it.”

O’Rourke said he did not want to engage in personal attacks.

“The bottom line is that I’m very, very proud of my mom,” he said. “I love her more than I can say, and I’m very grateful for everything that she does, including for her entire life running that store, which her mom started in 1951.”

Early polling in the race showed a tight race between the two, but a Quinnipiac poll released last week showed the incumbent with an 11-point lead

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Texas Senate race Likely Republican.

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