A freshman congressman from Texas is facing criticism over reports he took a private flight to sunny Florida during last week's winter storm and widespread power outages. While his home state dealt with historic chills and no electricity in millions of homes statewide, the Houston Chronicle reports that Rep. Gary Gates flew to Orlando on Wednesday night. The Fort Bend County Republican and business owner acknowledged his trip, but said it was out of concern for his wife, who's recovering from an illness, and his mentally handicapped adult daughter who still lives at home. Gates said he made the decision after 30% of their home flooded due to burst pipes.
Per a reporter for the Fort Bend Star, that was one of two conflicting reasons given for Gates' departure from his shivering district. Stefan Modrich tweeted Thursday that Gates' chief of staff said the trip was so that Gates, whose business manages several apartment buildings in Houston, could meet with a "major vendor" whose office is in the Florida city. Gates split the difference when asked about the inconsistencies, telling the Chronicle he used the opportunity of the family trip to Florida to also conduct some business. Gates stressed that he remained in phone contact with his district throughout the trip, which was due to end Friday. (Also back in town and facing similar criticism is Sen. Ted Cruz)