US Senator Ted Cruz flew to the Mexican resort city of Cancun with his family as millions of his fellow Texans struggled through a deadly deep freeze, sparking a slew of criticism.
The Republican lawmaker, 50, faced widespread criticism as photos circulated on social media showing him in an airport line, in a passenger lounge, aboard an airliner and departing an airport in Mexico.
Fox News initially reported Cruz flew to Cancun with his family, quoting an unidentified Republican source who said: "The photos speak for themselves."
Cruz's social media pages and official website made no mention of the photos.
Hours before the Fox News report, photos began circulating on social media that a journalist said had shown him flying to Mexico's Caribbean coast, where temperatures were to be above 27C.
"Just confirmed @SenTedCruz and his family flew to Cancun tonight for a few days at a resort they've visited before. Cruz seems to believe there isn't much for him to do in Texas for the millions of fellow Texans who remain without electricity/water and are literally freezing." former MSNBC anchor David Shuster tweeted shortly after midnight.
Millions of Texans remained paralyzed by power and water outages after a winter storm and freezing temperatures that hampered efforts to restore full power.
After several hours of speculation, Cruz confirmed he had indeed flown to sunny Cancun.
"This has been an infuriating week for Texans. The greatest state in the greatest country in the world has been without power. We have food lines, gas lines, and people sleeping at the neighbours' houses. Our homes are freezing and our lights are out. Like millions of Texans, our family lost heat and power too," he said, before addressing the controversial holiday.
"With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon.
"My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas. We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm. My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe."
With 2.7 million Texas households still without heat, leaders warned of a domino effect on infrastructure as the lack of power cut off water supplies, strained the ability of hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients and isolated vulnerable communities with frozen roads still impassable.
Cruz ran unsuccessfully for President in 2016.
Reuters / Newshub.