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Gov. Greg Abbott campaign hands out empty 'fentanyl' pill bottles at Beto O'Rourke event

Chron logo Chron 2/10/2022 Ariana Garcia
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Gov. Greg Abbott appears to be ramping up campaign efforts against opponent Beto O'Rourke. The Democrat made a stop in Austin ahead of the March 1 primary for his "Keeping the Lights On" campaign tour, which focuses on honoring lives lost during the deadly 2021 winter storm and O'Rourke's plans to fix the state power grid.

But before the former Texas Congressman began his speech in front of hundreds across the street from the governor's mansion, members of Abbott's re-election campaign distributed empty "fentanyl" pill bottles to those in attendance before being escorted from the event, according to Austin American-Statesman reporter Madlin Mekelburg.

Mekelburg shared photos of the pill bottles in a tweet Wednesday evening. 


Video: Gov. Greg Abbott campaigns in Houston touting Texas as big draw for businesses, families (KHOU-TV Houston)

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The labels on the transparent, orange bottles read "Beto Biden Open Border Crisis" and included a number of fentanyl deaths in 2021. "Caution: Open borders have increased the amount of fentanyl deaths."  Inside the bottle a "warning" list that included a quote citing National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd that states "Border Patrol Union: Lucky if we seize 5 percent of fentanyl pills coming from across the border." 

O'Rourke hit back with a tweet Thursday morning claiming Texas has been the least insured state every year under Abbott. "What if instead of having a governor who spends time handing out prop prescription bottles, we had a governor who expands Medicaid so more Texans can finally see a doctor and afford their lifesaving prescriptions," he tweeted.

O'Rourke's campaign also addressed the ads tweeting "Greg Abbott taking the high road once again."

Abbott and other conservative pundits have frequently lambasted President Joe Biden and O'Rourke for "open border policies." Some Twitter users condemned Abbott for placing blame on his gubernatorial opponent for issues with border security happening under the Republican's leadership. Other users called the props insensitive and a misuse of his $65 million in campaign funds. 

Last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported a 1,066 percent increase in the amount of fentanyl seized in fiscal year 2021 in south Texas. Between May 2020 and April 2021, more than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl accounted for the majority of those deaths. 

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