As a rule, lawyers should stay out of politics. So—we would never suggest who someone should vote for. However, when we hear something said that isn’t true, we feel a moral obligation to set the record straight. Following his victory at the Iowa caucus, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz addressed a room of supporters to celebrate the moment. Addressing the crowd, Cruz spoke about policemen, firemen, and first responders, referring to them as “heroes who rushed in to burning buildings instead of out of burning buildings.” The Tea Party Republican capitalized on his victory in Iowa by trying to garner the support of firefighter and police unions by taking a shot at the Obama administration who he claims “demonizes” those who have risked their life for the country.
Responding to Cruz’s comments was president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, Harold Schaitberger. Labeling Cruz’s speech as “disgusting,” Schaitberger stated, “When it came time to actually have the backs of firefighters across the U.S., he was AWOL.” Taking his criticism even further, Schaitberger stated, “Cruz is the worst kind of politician who will say or do anything to get elected.”
Earlier, New York Congressman Peter King tweeted that Ted Cruz was lying when he said he supports New York’s firefighters and police. “Not true,” the Republican said, adding that Cruz did not co-sponsor or vote in favor of the Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act. King went on to call Cruz “a fraud.”
New York City’s Uniformed Firefighters Association was also critical of Cruz, with the organization’s president, Steve Cassidy writing a piece that appeared in the New York Daily News on February 2nd. Addressing Curz in an open letter, Cassidy wrote “You had a chance to stand up for those who rushed into the burning towers on 9/11 and you failed them. While many firefighters and other first responders were desperate for Congress to pass legislation for their health care needs, Sen. Cruz was “nowhere to be found.” Cassidy’s letter appears on the Daily News website at http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ted-cruz-casts-champion-firefighters-cops-article-1.2518221
Schaitberger and Cassidy agreed that the evidence is clear that Cruz doesn’t care at all about first responders. Not only did he refuse to support the legislation known as the Zadroga Act, but the fact is that he actually voted against it. The law firm Barasch & McGarry represents nearly 10,000 first responders and downtown residents who are sick and dying as a result of their exposure to the WTC toxic dust. Hundreds of the firm’s clients have retired and moved to the south and out west. WTC Health Program patients now live in 420 of the 435 Congressional districts. During the months leading up to the bill’s final vote, Barasch urged his clients to call Cruz and other republican politicians to plead for their support. They left hundreds of telephone messages and sent thousands of emails to presidential candidate Cruz, asking him “How can you claim that you will represent 300 million Americans when you can’t take care of the 120 sick 9/11 first responders living in Texas?!” While many other politicians, including Marco Rubio, finally got on board and agreed to co-sponsor the Zadroga legislation, Cruz refused.
The fact is that Senator Cruz affirmatively opposed the bill in Congress that would have funded additional health care to first responders, including police and firefighters. For him to now try to gain the support of first responders is hypocritical and disingenuous. Despite Cruz’s opposition, Congress finally passed the bill on December 18, 2015. President Obama signed the legislation immediately, demonstrating his support for 9/11 first responders.