Texas Senator and failed presidential candidate Ted Cruz often makes headlines for his controversial politics, but he is also the subject of a dark rumor that has been circulating the web for years. “Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer” is a meme that seems to never truly go away.
Ever since the joke was introduced in 2013, it has only gained more traction among conspiracy theorists. In 2016, 10 percent of prospective Florida voters were certain of Ted Cruz’s Zodiac Killer connection. Another 28 percent remained unsure.
Find out the origins of the wild allegation that Cruz cannot shake off to this very day.
How Ted Cruz Got His Start In Politics
Senator Ted Cruz was born Rafael Edward Cruz on December 22, 1970, in Calgary, Alberta. The Canadian-born American, 50, is a graduate of both Princeton University and Harvard Law School. He served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William Rehnquist before moving on as a junior associate at Cooper, Carvin & Rosenthal. The private practice served as outside counsel to the National Rifle Association and helped prepare testimony in favor of Bill Clinton’s 1998 impeachment proceedings.
In 1999, Cruz became a domestic policy advisor for George W. Bush’s presidential campaign. Following Bush’s controversial victory over Al Gore via the Supreme Court, Cruz made an official transition to federal civil service. He served as Associate Deputy Attorney General in the U.S. Justice Department and as the director of policy planning at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
In 2012, Cruz became the first Hispanic American to serve as a U.S. Senator from Texas. But he had higher aspirations: on March 23, 2015, he became the first of seventeen major candidates to run for President. Despite winning the Iowa Caucuses, he fell behind Donald Trump by double digits and suspended his campaign after losing a crucial Indiana primary.
Cruz continues to serve in the Senate, where politicos speculate that the conservative lawyer will mount another campaign in 2024.
Ted Cruz Draws A Lot Of Criticism
Given the black-and-white nature of our political climate, it’s no surprise that Cruz is a polarizing politician. But he’s even managed to be a divisive figure among those in his own party.
According to a 2015 story in the Washington Post, the consensus among fellow Republicans is that Cruz is opportunistic. “There’s not a lot of love lost for the guy,” said Josh Holmes, former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “And it’s not what he’s trying to accomplish or what he says he’s trying to accomplish that bothers people. It’s that he’s consistently sacrificed the mutual goals of many for his personal enhancement.”
Karl Rove, a former senior adviser to Bush, also told the paper that Cruz was the type to throw allies under the bus “for political purposes.”
Even his old boss didn’t since words. “I just don’t like the guy,” former President George W. Bush told supporters at an October 2015 fundraiser for his brother Jeb Bush.
Ohio Republican and former Speaker of the House John Boehner once said of Cruz, “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”
Perhaps the worst shot came from Lindsey Graham. In 2016 at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s 72nd Congressional Dinner, the South Carolina Republican Senator “joked,” “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.”
Still, in the face of all that criticism (even from his own Republican colleagues), Cruz has an incredible ability to drown it all out.
There’s A Theory That Claims Ted Cruz Is The Zodiac Killer
In 2013, a random rumor surfaced alleging that Ted Cruz was the infamous Zodiac Killer. Internet sleuths pointed to the following tweet as the origin of the theory:
Conspiracy theorists and trolls began to run with it in the months leading up to the 2016 Presidential election. They strained to reveal connections between the two: comparing police sketches of the serial killer to portraits of Cruz, analyzing words for clues, and looking for codes in arbitrary numbers:
Texas Governor Greg Abbott made light of the rumor in a 2019 tweet that linked Cruz to the “death” of Star Wars‘ Baby Yoda.
Even Cruz can laugh about it—in 2017 he posted a cryptogram in response to a tweet about conspiracies. (That said, Cruz has never outright addressed or denied the theory.)
Perhaps Cruz is immune to rumors after all that he’s seen and heard during his time as a Senator. It’s not even the wildest story we’ve heard about him. Take Donald Trump’s 2016 claim that Cruz’s father was linked to the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy.
Is Ted Cruz Really The Zodiac Killer?
Sorry to disappoint those 10 percent of Floridian poll participants who believe the conspiracy theory, but of course Ted Cruz is not the Zodiac Killer. For starters, the killer’s first confirmed murder was committed in 1968 in California’s Bay Area. Cruz was born two years later. In fact, most of the Zodiac Killer’s crimes took place in Northern California; as they happened, Cruz was just a child living outside of Houston, Texas.
The rumor is just an internet hoax that happened to take off. Although most people are in on the joke, we don’t expect the rumor to die anytime soon—at least not in our current period of disinformation and turmoil.