Opinion

Who Is The Real Heidi Nelson Cruz?

As the nation says “Goodbye” to Nancy Reagan – a woman widely admired as the quintessential political wife – we pause to ask: Who is Heidi Nelson Cruz?

Watching any Ted Cruz political advertisement featuring his wife and two young daughters, we could easily get the impression that Heidi Nelson Cruz, like Nancy Reagan, is a devoted wife dedicated to making sure she and her husband occupy the White House.

The New York Times in an article published on Jan. 18, described Heidi Cruz as “a political wife,” who had become a force in her husband’s presidential contest, “an all-purpose surrogate and strategist to be deployed as often as possible.”

Heidi is herself a high-powered Bush insider, who served as deputy to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice before signing on as a Deputy to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, neocon stalwart and former Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations. Zoellick wired a cushy job for Heidi when she landed at Goldman Sachs as a partner. Goldman would, of course, go on to make a secret $1 million loan to fund Ted’s U.S. Senate campaign while both Cruzes lied about the source of funds being Heidi’s retirement savings.

Yet, investigating more deeply, Ted and Heidi Cruz have had a sometimes troubled relationship punctuated by bouts of physical separation that began when two young Christians on the fringe of protestant evangelicalism met while working on the Bush-Cheney 2000 presidential campaign.

Ted and Heidi began their married years as a Washington-insider “power couple,” before Ted left Heidi to continue her investment banking career in Washington, while Ted returned to Texas to pursue his political ambitions.

A Pentecostal marries a Seventh-day Adventist

Ted, who first came to Jesus Christ as a Pentecostal, was born in Canada in 1970, to two parents who met in Louisiana and re-married in 1969, after their first marriages ended in divorce. Ted’s father, today a Cuban-born preacher, moved to Calgary, Alberta, with his second wife – Ted’s mother – to work in the Canadian oil fields.

Ted’s mother, Eleanor Darragh, was born in Wilmington, Delaware. She met Rafael in Louisiana where she was working as a computer programmer in the oil industry. Eleanor had first moved south to Houston, Texas to study mathematics at Rice University following the breakup of her first marriage and the tragic death of her first child, born to the husband she divorced.

When Ted was three years old, his father got on an airplane and flew back to Texas, abandoning his wife and son.

“When I was 3, my father decided to leave my mother and me,” Ted occasionally explains. “We were living in Calgary at the time, he got on a plane and he flew back to Texas, and he decided he didn’t want to be married anymore and he didn’t want to be a father to his 3-year-old son.”

Eventually reconciled in Texas, Rafael and Eleanor Darragh Cruz continued their troubled marriage through the 1970s, plagued by alcohol and infidelity, with a divorce in 1997, two years after Ted finished law school at Harvard.

Heidi’s family history, while less raucous, starts with her being born in 1972, to missionary parents in San Luis Obispo, where her mother, a dental hygienist, meet her father, a practicing dentist.

Raised a Seventh-day Adventist, Kenya was one of the many countries young Heidi remembered as home as she traveled around the world with her preacher parents on their missionary quest.

“Beltway” years

In 2001, Ted found himself directing the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission, having ruffled feathers of top Bush-Cheney political operatives by his largely overstated participation in the 2000 Florida recount contest, where truly he played a peripheral role at best. He did, however, recruit a certain John Roberts to the Bush Team. The rest, including Obamacare, is history.

Heidi, who began her career in D.C. as a political intern, emerged more successfully from her Bush-Cheney experience, landing a job working for Condoleezza Rice as an economic policy adviser for the National Security Council in the White House.

At the White House, Heidi served as special assistant to Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick, who as U.S. Trade Representative had brokered virtually every free trade deal since serving as U.S. negotiator during the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations that led to the formation of the World Trade Organization.

Zoellick, whose biography includes credentials as president of the World Bank, served as vice chairman of Goldman Sachs from 2006-2007, where he crossed paths again with Heidi who he helped  land a job with Goldman Sachs as a managing director investing money for high net worth clients.Heidi also signed up at the Council on Foreign Relations where she chaired a group advocating a North American Accord which would surrender American sovereignty to Canada and Mexico

Goldman Sachs was also the Wall Street investment bank whose job offer Ted Cruz had turned down after graduating from Harvard Law School.

Goldman Sachs resurfaces in the Cruz family saga in January 2016, when the New York Times revealed Ted Cruz had failed to report a $500,000 Goldman Sachs loan that helped him win election to the U.S. Senate in 2012.

A 2005 police report

By 2003, Ted Cruz had returned to Texas where then Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott had appointed him to serve in the Solicitor General’s office, marking the start of Cruz’s political career.

In an article dated March 18, 2015, BuzzFeed reporters McKay Coppins and Megan Apper published a heavily redacted police report that described a bizarre incident involving Heidi Cruz in 2005.

According to the police report, around 10 p.m. on the night of Aug. 22, 2005, the Austin Police Department dispatched Officer Joel Davidson to an intersection a couple of miles west of the Texas City’s downtown.

“A passerby had called to report that a woman in a pink shirt was sitting on the ground near the MoPac Expressway with her head in her hands, and no sign of a vehicle nearby,” Coopins and Apper wrote. “When the officer arrived, he found the woman on a swath of grass between an onramp and the freeway. She said her name was Heidi Cruz.”

Officer Davidson next proceeded to question Heidi Cruz, whose husband, Ted, was then serving as Texas solicitor general.

“He [Officer Davidson] asked what she was doing by the expressway,” Coopins and Apper continued. “(S)he replied that she lived on nearby Hartford Street, and ‘had been walking around the area.’ She went on to tell Davidson that she was not on any medication and that she hadn’t been drinking, aside from ‘two sips of a margarita an hour earlier with dinner.’ He wrote that he ‘did not detect any signs of intoxication.’”

“A bout of depression”

While the heavily redacted police report did not claim the incident involved a suicide attempt, Officer Davidson did put into writing that he believed Cruz was a “danger to herself,” noting that he found her sitting 10 feet away from heavy traffic, unable to explain what she was doing there.

Evidently, Heidi Cruz did not take well to what appears to have been a Ted Cruz demand that she leave her lucrative Goldman Sachs job in Washington to join him in Texas, where she could play her expected role as “wife” when Ted began laying serious plans to run for political office.

“About a decade ago, when Mrs. Cruz returned from D.C. to Texas and faced a significant professional transition, she experienced a brief bout of depression,” a Ted Cruz advisor, in response to a BuzzFeed request for comment on the story.

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“Like millions of Americans, she came through that struggle with prayer, Christian counseling, and the love and support of her husband and family,” statement from Cruz’s office continued.

The couple’s first daughter, Caroline, was born in 2008. She is currently on a leave of absence without pay from her position as region head for the southwest region in the investment management division of Goldman Sachs in Houston.

In a 2013 interview, Ted’s mother, Eleanor Darragh, who lives in the same condo complex in Houston as do Ted, Heidi, and their two daughters, explained she helps raise the children with the live-in nanny responsible for carrying for them.