Rep. Gabe Vasquez Due in Court After Texas Police Execute Arrest Warrant Against Him, Court Docs Show

Congressman was a no-show for court dates after he was charged with driving without a license and insurance

Rep. Gabriel Vasquez (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
May 24, 2024

Police in El Paso, Texas, executed an arrest warrant against New Mexico Democratic congressman Gabe Vasquez in March, according to court documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Vasquez, the documents show, failed to appear in court more than two decades ago, in 2002, after he was charged with driving without a license, driving without insurance, and disregarding an "official traffic control device." Police subsequently cited him for a failure to appear in court in September 2007 and issued a warrant for his arrest in April 2008.

An El Paso constable executed the warrant roughly two months ago, on March 19, according to court documents. Vasquez paid a nearly $900 cash bond, pleaded no contest, and waived his right to a jury trial.

He has a pre-trial hearing in September, court filings show, and will face a conviction and forfeiture of his bond if he does not appear, according to his no contest plea. A Vasquez spokesperson called the September hearing an "administrative mistake" and pledged to produce documentation at the first opportunity.

Vasquez’s plea document lists his employment as "United States Congress."

Vasquez did address the ordeal publicly and conducted business as usual. On March 19, as a representative for Vasquez paid his bond, the congressman hosted a "tele-town hall." A day later, he issued a statement attacking what he called a "dangerous Supreme Court ruling" that permitted Texas to temporarily enforce a law that allows local police to arrest migrants.

"These traffic fines from over two decades ago when the congressman was 18 years old were paid off and no further action has been requested," Vasquez campaign manager Dylan McArthur said in a statement.

Vasquez lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico, but was born roughly 50 miles south in El Paso. He spent years criticizing law enforcement ahead of his first congressional run in 2022, when he began to describe himself as a staunch supporter of police.

In the summer of 2020, for example, he called to "deconstruct and rebuild the systems of oppression that keep black people in perpetual harm," which he said included "law enforcement" and "the economy." He also said that as long as "white folks … dominate this nation's wealth and preside over our nation's governing bodies and judicial systems, the racism, killing, and injustice will continue."

At the time, Vasquez served on the Las Cruces City Council. In that role, he routinely expressed interest in cutting police budgets and reforming law enforcement practices.

In emails Vasquez sent to constituents in 2020 and obtained by the Free Beacon, he touted his role on a "small police-council group … working on guidelines to ensure all situations are handled via de-escalation of violence." He also said he "absolutely supports police reform" and would not "be stopping short of transformational reform."

"I wholeheartedly and absolutely support police reform and the #blacklivesmatter movement, and will not be stopping short of transformational reform that brings justice to our city and to people of color in our community. You can count on my support," Vasquez wrote in one email to a constituent who demanded he halve the city's police budget.

Vasquez ran for Congress in 2022 and quietly scrubbed social media posts that rationalized rioting in the wake of George Floyd's death. He portrayed himself instead as a champion of law enforcement, telling CNN he has "been clear all along" that he "do[es] not believe defunding the police is a path toward a fair criminal justice system." In one political advertisement, he featured a retired sheriff who said Vasquez "supports our law enforcement."

Vasquez narrowly prevailed in that race, defeating the incumbent, Republican Yvette Herrell, by less than one point. He launched his reelection bid last year and will face Herrell in a rematch this November.