Democratic Lawmaker Gets More Bad News

( – US lawmakers are held to high standards, especially since they have the ability to influence domestic and foreign policy. Sometimes, however, they betray that in the face of their own desires. That’s what Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and now Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) are accused of. Both are facing strikingly similar charges. Once the indictment came down against Cuellar, the House Ethics Committee decided it needed to investigate.

The Charges Against Cuellar

Rep. Cuellar and his wife, Imelda Cuellar, were indicted on several charges, which the Department of Justice’s Office of Public Affairs announced was unsealed on May 3. The congressman is accused of bribery, conspiracy, money laundering, aiding and abetting, and acting as a foreign agent. The charges stem from activities that the two allegedly engaged in from December 2014 through November 2021, at least.

The couple is accused of receiving payments in shell companies for sham contracts through middlemen and front companies. Mrs. Cuellar reportedly owned the shell companies. The payments, totaling nearly $600,000, were sent from a Mexican bank and an Azerbaijan oil company. In exchange for receiving the payments — classified by the indictment as bribes — Cuellar is accused of using his position as a US lawmaker to influence policy to benefit the two establishments.

House Ethics Committee Investigating

Because Cuellar was indicted on federal charges, the House Ethics Committee made the decision to investigate. Chairman Michael Guest (R-MS) and Ranking Member Susan Wild (D-PA) issued a joint statement announcing the probe. The investigation will look at Cuellar’s activities and determine whether he “solicited or accepted bribes, gratuities, or improper gifts; acted as a foreign agent; violated federal money laundering laws; [or] misused his official position for private gain.”

They have established a subcommittee, which will be chaired by a Guest. Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-MD) will serve as Ranking Member. Then, the subcommittee will be rounded out by Representatives. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) and Ben Cline (R-VA).

Cuellar acknowledged the investigation in a statement and said he “respect[s] the work of the House Ethics Committee.” He also claims he is innocent of all of the charges and “everything [he has] done in Congress has been to serve the people of South Texas.

Like Menendez, Cuellar stepped down from his committee assignments following the indictment. He is up for reelection this year, and these charges may significantly impact his chances of winning. He is facing off against Jay Furman, who won a runoff election on Tuesday, May 28.

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