EXCLUSIVE: Trump donors whose names and employers were posted in a highly controversial tweet by Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro blasted the Texas congressman on Wednesday for what they described as a “ridiculous” stunt and, in interviews with Fox News, rejected his claim that they are “fueling a campaign of hate” against Hispanics.
One of those Trump donors even revealed he's also been a supporter of local Democratic lawmakers—including Castro himself.
Wayne Harwell, the owner of a local real estate development company whose name appeared on the list Castro shared on Monday night, told Fox News in a phone interview that he donated money to Castro’s congressional campaign. But he suggested that after Castro outed him in a bid to shame Trump supporters, he won't be supporting Castro anymore.
“I was also on a list of people that gave to Castro and if he dislikes me enough that he wants to put my name out there against Trump, I’m not going to give money to him,” Harwell told Fox News. “Obviously Castro feels pretty strongly against me.”
According to Federal Election Commission records, Harwell donated $1,000 to Castro’s campaign in September 2011.
“I’m pretty independent, but I support Trump,” Harwell explained.
Harwell’s name appeared on a list, along with 43 other prominent donors in San Antonio who have contributed to President Trump. This year, Harwell contributed a total of $5,600 to the Trump Victory committee, and $2,800 to the Trump campaign. Harwell also donated to Trump’s campaign during his first presidential run in 2016.
That list was posted on Twitter by Castro, who is the campaign chairman for his brother, 2020 presidential hopeful Julian Castro. The Texas congressman sought to link them to a "campaign of hate" in the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.
“Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump," Castro tweeted. “Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”
Harwell rejected the allegation.
“I think some of the Democratic rhetoric is more hateful than some of Trump’s rhetoric,” he said. “I think the San Antonio community needs to take a real deep look at what Castro is doing. Why is he doing this?”
He added: “If he wants to play in Washington, he needs to move to Washington. If he wants to play in San Antonio, he needs to at least be sensitive. The rest of the community is sensitive. We’re sensitive to both Republican and Democrat views. A lot of us here in San Antonio are independents.”
Harwell said Castro was drawing “hard lines,” and said that was “not helpful.”
“I hope his constituents remember this,” Harwell said.
Another individual on the list, William Greehey, also gave thousands of dollars to Castro during his first two campaigns, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Meanwhile, a local oil business owner and executive, Justin Herricks, whose name was also on Castro’s list, called the tactic “ridiculous.”
“As a country, as a whole, we’ve got much bigger issues than trying to fight amongst ourselves,” Herricks told Fox News in a phone interview.
“I feel pretty good about what I’ve done, and who I support,” he said. “Everybody else is pretty open with what they believe in on the other side, so why can’t I? What’s the problem?”
Herricks donated $2,800 to Trump’s re-election campaign this year, and $15,000 to the Trump Victory committee.
Herricks went on to deny Castro’s claims that Trump donors are complicit in spreading hateful rhetoric against Hispanics.
“Probably a good 50 to 70 percent of my employment is Mexican people,” Herricks said. “You can’t have that argument.”
He added: “Everyone on that list, I would be safe to say, has done way more for Hispanic people than Castro ever has thought of doing. I don’t know the guy, but how many employees does he have compared to all of the people on the list?”
Herricks referenced Bill Miller Bar-B-Q—a local restaurant that Castro featured in his tweet. “Bill Millers—it has a huge Mexican heritage,” Herricks said. “If you go to any Bill Millers in San Antonio—Hispanics are his staff. How can you say that when he employs so many of them?”
Yet after the congressman tagged the restaurant’s Twitter handle in his original post, it faced a social media backlash, with some users vowing to boycott the restaurant.
One user tweeted a gif that said: "Don't support Trump's racism or Sh**ty BBQ."
Other Twitter users, though, said that they would proudly eat at the restaurants.
Miller, who owns 74 locations in San Antonio, declined to comment to Fox News.
Another Trump donor who appeared on the list, Mark Hanrahan, CEO of MidAmerican Aerospace, voiced similar concerns.
"Castro's tweet shows how out of bounds people are going now," Hanrahan said in an interview with Fox News. "People are confusing my right to support a candidate with racism and it's totally wrong. Castro is a demagogue."
Meanwhile, Republicans, including the Trump campaign, blasted Castro and accused him of “targeting” private citizens. The Trump campaign told Fox News late Tuesday that they reported Castro’s tweet to Twitter, arguing it violates the platform’s abusive behavior provision stating users cannot “engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so.”
It is unclear at this point who originally compiled the list of donors that Castro tweeted out late Monday.
Castro did not respond to Fox News’ multiple requests for comment, but tweeted Tuesday night that he would “love to have a conversation with @Twitter and @Facebook about how I use their platforms versus how the President uses them.”
Castro also defended himself in response to criticism from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who tweeted that the Texas Democrat's post was "shameful and dangerous."
"No one was targeted or harassed in my post. You know that," Castro said in response to McCarthy. "All that info is routinely published. You’re trying to distract from the racism that has overtaken the GOP and the fact that President Trump spends donor money on thousands of ads about Hispanics 'invading' America.
"Donald Trump has put a target on the back of millions," Castro went on. "And you’re too cowardly or agreeable to say anything about it. How about I stop mentioning Trump’s public campaign donors and he stops using their money for ads that fuel hate?"
In an interview Wednesday on MSNBC, he said he did not want to see anyone "harassed."
Castro's tweet comes as 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are criticizing President Trump's rhetoric, and even branding him a racist, in the wake of last weekend's back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left 31 people dead.
Castro's brother, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, also slammed the president, saying he has embraced "division and bigotry" and is "fanning the flames of hate" as a form of "political strategy."
Julian Castro did not respond to Fox News' request for comment on his brother's tweet.
The White House hit back earlier Tuesday.
“There is a huge difference ... between running your mouth and running for president, and being the president and trying to bring together a nation,” Counselor Kellyanne Conway said on “Fox & Friends." “The president did not respond in kind. They politicized this over the weekend.”
Fox News' Emily DeCiccio contributed to this report.