Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, didn't wear a face mask for part of Houston to Dallas flight on American Airlines on Sunday, according to a photo taken by a fellow passenger.
Cruz was also photographed without a mask at the gate of the airport. The fellow passenger, who wished to remain anonymous, sent photos of a mask-less Cruz to a friend, who passed the images on to Hosseh Enad, who works for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Enad posted one image of Cruz sitting on the airplane looking at his phone and holding a cup of to-go coffee and another photo of Cruz, also mask-less, waiting in the airport gate. The airline crew didn't appear to ask Cruz to wear a mask, Enad told Business Insider.
American Airlines' official policy states that all passengers, except young children and those with a health condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, must wear masks while flying. Passengers are allowed to temporarily take off their masks while eating or drinking.
"To help promote safety, Senator Cruz wears a mask when traveling, and practices social distancing where possible," a spokesperson for Cruz told Business Insider in an email. "Consistent with airline policy, he temporarily removes the mask while eating or drinking. Yesterday during his flight he removed his mask to drink and put it back on afterward. We should all practice common sense measures to slow the spread of the virus."
The spokesperson did not immediately confirm whether Cruz was eating or drinking for the whole flight or in the gate.
President Donald Trump for months refused to wear a face covering, despite the federal government's recommendation that all Americans wear cloth face coverings when they cannot social distance. And he has held several political rallies, including in indoor venues, that didn't require masks or social distancing. For the first time publicly, Trump wore a mask during a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday.
Some GOP leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have recently begun urging Americans to wear masks and publicly worn face coverings themselves. Cruz has been photographed wearing a mask while in the Capitol building.