President Barack Obama Endorses Reyes; O'Rourke Responds

EL PASO, Texas - President Barack Obama endorsed Rep. Silvestre Reyes of the 16th District of Texas in his re-election bid to represent El Paso in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday.

?Congressman Reyes is a tireless champion for all El Pasoans, and he works hard to create jobs, strengthen health care, and expand educational opportunities for his community,? said Obama. ?That is why we need his trusted leadership and experience in the U.S. House of Representatives so the two of us can continue to fight to bring real jobs to the 16th District of Texas and our nation. I need you to cast your vote for Congressman Silvestre Reyes in the May 29th Democratic Primary.?

Officials with Reyes's campaign said Reyes is focusing his campaign on the economic issues facing the families of El Paso. They also said the endorsement is a clear signal that Obama values Reyes' partnership in their fight to create jobs and revitalize our economy.

?While I work to create jobs, strengthen health care and create educational opportunities for more El Pasoans, my main opponent cut jobs, cut housing for disabled people, fought our unions, wants to raise the retirement age and legalize drugs,? Reyes said. ?There is too much at stake. This is no time to gamble away our future on someone with no experience, no seniority and who does not share El Paso?s values.?

ABC-7 contacted the challenger for El Paso City Councilman Beto O'Rourke for a response on the announcement of the endorsement. His response:

"There's not a single endorsement Mr. Reyes can receive that will erase the facts he's tried to hide from El Paso: that he's an enabler of corruption, that he's only passed 6 bills in 16 years, that 95 percent of Congress shows up to work more often than he does, that he accepts money from alleged drug dealers, that he's the No.1 offender when it comes to using campaign funds to enrich himself and his family, and that he will not make himself accountable to voters at forums."Our campaign always knew we'd see plenty of D.C. influence in this race -- starting with the special interests that give money to the Reyes machine. But this seat doesn't belong to D.C., it belongs to the people of El Paso, and that's why the only endorsement that matters to me is that of our families and voters."

O'Rourke called ABC-7 after sending the above response via email to clarify his statement that Reyes accepted money from alleged drug dealers. Beto said Reyes accepted $9,500 dollars from former El Paso County Commissioner Willie Gandara. Gandara was arrested in February by federal agents on drug trafficking charges. O'Rourke said Reyes had stated he would return the donation to Gandara, but has yet to do so according to O'Rourke.

The election will take place May 29.

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