There are a lot of reasons Ted Cruz should be kept as far away from the Oval Office as possible, and the question of his “natural born” status is way down there on the list. After all, if Barack Obama can be born in Hawaii and no one has problem with that, then… oh wait.
Anyway, now the Republicans are beginning to raise the issue of Mr. Cruz’s citizenship status more as a way to tweak his nose — he’s universally despised by his fellow Senate members — than a serious question about his eligibility to actually serve in office. It sounds like they’re having fun with it.
So we’re entitled to savor some schadenfreude now as Cruz himself gets caught in the birther web. Donald Trump’s questioning of Cruz’s status as a natural-born American and, therefore, his eligibility to be president is rough justice. Cruz, like Trump, has stoked the fires of resentment and xenophobia, so it’s entirely fitting that he gets burned.
Like Cruz foe John McCain (the 2008 Republican presidential nominee said Cruz’s eligibility is a “legitimate question”), Democratic leaders have been happy to see Cruz twist in the wind. “I do think there is a distinction between John McCain being born to a family serving our country in Panama and someone born in another country,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said Thursday.
But there may be something worth looking into back up in Canada. In 2013 TPM found documentation that Ted Cruz’s mother was a registered voter in Calgary, Alberta.
TPM shared an electronic copy of the document with Sen. Cruz’s office when it originally obtained the document in 2013. Cruz’s then-communications director, Sean Rushton, emphasized that the document is not a record of people who actually voted in any election. He further pointed out that the document itself provides notice that “applications for corrections,” “deletions from,” and “additions to” the list may have been necessary.
“At least one other error is evident on its face: the name of Sen. Cruz’s father is misspelled,” Rushton told TPM in his 2013 statement. “Regardless, Mrs. Cruz has never been a Canadian citizen, and she has never voted in any Canadian election.”
TPM eventually decided not to publish an article based on the document at the time, in part because Cruz was not yet a candidate for president. TPM decided to revisit the story earlier this week as rival Donald Trump renewed his skepticism about Cruz’s eligibility, moving the story to the center of the campaign, and was prepared to publish this evening.
Then late Friday afternoon, Breitbart.com published an article about the same document TPM had shared with Cruz’s office in 2013, a voter list for the southern district of Calgary, alongside a lengthy, exclusive statement from the Cruz campaign.
Jason Johnson, Cruz’s chief campaign strategist, said in the statement that candidate’s mother “was never a citizen of Canada.” He added that she could not have been a Canadian citizen at the time her son was born because of residency requirements. Eleanor Cruz was born in Delaware, while her ex-husband, Rafael Cruz, was born in Cuba, obtained Canadian citizenship while living in Calgary and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in the mid-2000s.
The document in question is a voter list of individuals who lived in the southern district of the city of Calgary, were over the age of 18 and were Canadian citizens, thus eligible to vote.
In accordance with the Canadian Election Act, such lists were compiled in the 1970s by a pair of officials, called enumerators, who went door-to-door together in an electoral district to ascertain the name, address and occupation of any person qualified to vote. The statute states that enumerators who “willfully and without reasonable excuse” added a name to the list “of any person who is not entitled to have his name entered thereon” forfeited pay for their services and were be subject to other punishments.
Another election official, called a returning officer, then reviewed the list. The statute states that the returning officer could not certify the document if he believed the list contained the name of any person who shouldn’t be included. The document obtained by TPM was certified in Calgary by a returning officer.
In 2013, a Canadian elections official told TPM that in the process of compiling the list, enumerators asked people to affirm that they were Canadian citizens.
“So when they knock on doors, they ask them: are you Canadian citizens, are you 18 years of age or older, and are you a resident in this facility and how long have you been living here?” Drew Westwater, the director of election operations and communications for Elections Alberta, told TPM. “If they meet all that criteria then they add them to the list, take their name and addresses and anyone else who’s living there. And they ask, is anyone else living here a Canadian citizen 18 years of age or older? And if they are, then they take their names from them at the door. And that’s the way it worked in those days.”
The Raphael and Eleanor Cruz listed on the document clearly appear to be Cruz’s parents. The spelling of Cruz’s father’s name is anglicized to “Raphael” rather than the correct spelling “Rafael” and his occupation is listed as self-employed; at the time, the Cruzes worked in the oil industry running a seismic data-processing business.
To confirm the Cruzes’ identity, TPM cross-referenced the address listed for the couple on the southern district voter list with Calgary city directories for the years 1971-1974.
Most of the directories listed the Cruzes as living at the northwest Calgary address where it’s been reported that Ted Cruz was born. The address listed for the couple in the 1973 city directory matched the address on 1974 voter list and further listed both Cruzes as executives of the data-processing firm.
According to phone books from 1971, 1972 and 1973, Cruz’s parents were the only individuals with the surname Cruz living in Calgary.
There’s no proof that Mrs. Cruz ever voted in an election in Canada, but showing up on a voter list at least raises the question as to what she was doing on it.
If the schadenfreude fits, enjoy it.