One prominent Republican was caught without a face mask on while aboard a commercial flight this week, leading to an investigation by American Airlines.
According to the Daily Wire, Twitter user Hosseh Enad — a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee operative — shared images of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), leading to the airline’s probe.
“Refusing to wear a mask”
American Airlines has instituted a strict mask policy mandating face coverings in all but a select few situations.
Among the exemptions is while a passenger is eating or drinking, after which the individual is expected to put a mask back on.
Online criticism mounted Monday after Enad shared the images, along with a caption declaring that Cruz was “refusing to wear a mask.”
“Removes the mask while eating or drinking”
In the photo, however, Cruz can be seen holding a cup of coffee. It was for that reason, his staff later said, that the senator had temporarily removed his mask.
— Hosseh (@hossehenad) July 13, 2020
“To help promote safety, Senator Cruz wears a mask when traveling, and practices social distancing where possible,” a Cruz spokesperson explained in a statement to The Hill. “Consistent with airline policy, he temporarily removes the mask while eating or drinking.”
“Health and safety of the traveling public”
The statement went on to assert that Cruz “removed his mask to drink and put it back on afterward,” which is supported by another Twitter post showing the senator wearing a mask while apparently on the same flight.
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) July 13, 2020
Nevertheless, American Airlines confirmed it has opened an investigation and reached out to Cruz to “affirm the importance of this policy as part of our commitment to protecting the health and safety of the traveling public.”
Considering the evidence that Cruz was actually just removing his mask to drink some coffee, however, it appears that this might have simply been the latest effort to discredit a conservative public figure.