In 2012, 16-year Democratic veteran Silvestre Reyes lost his Congressional District 16 seat to newcomer Beto O’Rourke during that election’s primary. Then president Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton, both Democrats, endorsed Reyes’ reelection. O’Rourke went on to defeat Republican Barbara Carrasco for the congressional seat. Accusations of corruption were levied by O’Rourke against Reyes during the bruising campaign. A $240,000 super PAC helped Beto O’Rourke defeat the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. After the election, Reyes labeled the O’Rourke campaign as “nasty, dirty” and “filthy” through various news media outlets.
Two former Silvestre Reyes employees – Vince Perez and Claudia Ordaz – who are now married, and both hold elected offices, allegedly helped Beto O’Rourke defeat Reyes. Ordaz was a staffer working for Reyes in El Paso and an active volunteer for his campaign. After the election, it was rumored that both Ordaz and Perez were actively helping the O’Rourke’s campaign, even though Ordaz was volunteering for the Reyes Campaign.
In a telephone interview on Friday, October 5, 2018, Silvestre Reyes stated that it wasn’t until after the election that the Reyes Campaign realized that Ordaz and Perez helped Beto O’Rourke’s campaign. As “members of my staff,” Ordaz and Perez, “did good work,” stated Reyes. However, Silvestre Reyes soon felt “betrayed” and “disappointed” in his two former staffers. Vince Perez worked in Reyes’ Washington office and Claudia Ordaz worked in the El Paso office. Both worked on media for Reyes.
Although Vince Perez had stopped working for Reyes in 2011, when he launched his county commissioner race, Claudia Ordaz remained on Reyes’ payroll throughout the Reyes campaign. Ordaz also volunteered at the campaign after hours.
The Reyes Campaign headquarters was located on Cotton and Montana. One day, a campaign laptop was reported missing. The laptop contained election campaign strategy data. The theft of the laptop led the campaign to install video surveillance. Ordaz, according to Silvestre Reyes, was a regular at the campaign headquarters.
The laptop was never found.
Silvestre Reyes and members of his campaign staff soon “suspected the stolen laptop” was taken by Claudia Ordaz, said Reyes. Asked for clarification, Reyes said that the evidence is “circumstantial”, but believes it was Ordaz who took it. “People saw Claudia and Vince,” working for the O’Rourke campaign, stated Reyes. Reyes added that he did not suspect Ordaz of working with the O’Rourke Campaign until after the election.
Claudia Ordaz is no stranger to ethical controversies. In 2016, Barbara Carrasco filed an ethics complaint against Ordaz for sharing executive session information with Veronica Escobar. The City Attorney later “rejected” the ethics complaint because it alleged criminal activity that the City could not adjudicate, according to the city attorney’s office. The City advised Carrasco to file her criminal complaint with the proper authorities.
The year before, it was also revealed that Claudia Ordaz was exchanging text messages with Vince Perez county staffer – Jose Landeros – over an MPO issue before city council. The text messages demonstrated that Ordaz was being coached from the audience by Landeros on how to respond to the ongoing public debate in real-time. Over 150 text messages were exchanged between Landeros and Ordaz during the debate on the council agenda item. The MPO issue was tied to whether Vince Perez remained the chair of the MPO. The text messages also demonstrated that Ordaz put the MPO item on the city agenda specifically to target Courtney Niland and Michiel Noe.
Jose Landeros also coached Ordaz on several other issues before the City. These included a PSB case and the 2015 pay raise for the City Manager. During the time Landeros was coaching Ordaz, he was working for Vince Perez at the County. The controversial text messages demonstrated that Claudia Ordaz targeted city council colleagues, Michiel Noe and Courtney Niland through the MPO issue she had placed on the city’s agenda. The coordinated messaging from Landeros to Claudia Ordaz, through text messages, show an attempt to undermine the City’s position on city-county issues as well as undermining other elected official at the city.
Also, Claudia Ordaz, along with her husband, Vince Perez, was involved in a mysterious incident at Whataburger at 2 in the morning in 2015. The police were called. Ordaz and Perez were accused of “becoming aggressive and causing a disturbance”. Both were also accused of arguing with police. Although a police report was filed, no charges were levied against either.
Last week we learned the fact that Barack Obama skipped endorsing Beto O’Rourke, although Obama has endorsed over 300 other Democratic contenders for the November elections. Questions remain as to why O’Rourke was bypassed by Obama, who endorsed his predecessor, Silvestre Reyes in 2012.
Although Silvestre Reyes cannot prove that the campaign laptop was stolen by Ordaz, he is convinced that it was likely taken by Claudia Ordaz to help Beto O’Rourke during the 2012 primary where Reyes lost his seat.
Thus, the question remains, did Claudia Ordaz steal a campaign laptop to help the Beto O’Rourke Campaign?