Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar and Wife Accused for $600,000 Azerbaijan Bribes

Texas Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar and his wife have been accused by federal prosecutors of conspiring and accepting bribes. They are alleged to have received almost $600,000 from a company controlled by Azerbaijan and a Mexican bank.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the charges on Friday, shortly after Mr. Cuellar stated that he is innocent.

According to an indictment, it is claimed that Mr. Cuellar and his wife Imelda accepted almost $600,000 in bribes from an energy company controlled by Azerbaijan and a bank in Mexico between 2014 and 2021. In return, the congressman agreed to support the interests of the country and the bank in the United States.

It is claimed that the money was moved through a number of front companies and intermediaries before being transferred to shell companies owned by Ms. Cuellar.

Mr. Cuellar is accused of agreeing to use his influence to pass legislation that would benefit Azerbaijan. He also allegedly agreed to give a speech supporting Azerbaijan on the floor of the US House.

The announcement is made after the congressman issued a statement earlier on Friday. In the statement, he said that his actions in Congress were all aimed at serving the people of South Texas.

“I want to make it clear that both my wife and I are saying we did not do what we are being accused of,” Mr. Cuellar said. “Before I did anything, I asked the House Ethics Committee for legal advice. They gave me multiple written opinions, and I also got another opinion from a national law firm.”

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“In addition, we asked to meet with the prosecutors in Washington DC to explain the facts, but they refused to discuss the case with us or listen to our side.” He said that the things he did in Congress were similar to what many of his colleagues did and were in the best interest of the American people.

Mr. Cuellar, a conservative Democrat, has been criticized by progressives for his stance against abortion rights. In 2020 and 2022, Jessica Cisneros ran as a primary challenger against him. She made it to a runoff election both times, but he ultimately won.

The House Democratic leadership has consistently supported him and believes that he is the only Democrat who can win in the heavily conservative and Latino Rio Grande Valley. In his most recent primary in March, he did not have any opponents.

Mr. Cuellar has strongly criticized other Democrats for their immigration policies. He has also formed a group of Democrats called Democrats for Border Security Task Force, who support stronger measures. At one point, he served as the co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus.

Mr. Cuellar’s family is also well-known in the district. His brother is the law enforcement officer in charge of Webb County, while his sister worked as a legal official for Rio Bravo and Webb County. He is called “the King Laredo” because he has a lot of power where he lives.

In 2022, the FBI searched Mr. Cuellar’s congressional office in Laredo and his home. The congressman’s attorney at that time stated that he was not the main focus of the investigation. The search was part of a larger investigation related to Azerbaijan. FBI agents served subpoenas and conducted interviews in Washington DC and Texas as part of this investigation, according to a person with direct knowledge of the probe.

The congressman, who has served nine terms, went to Azerbaijan in 2013, according to federal disclosures. Two years later, Mr. Cuellar’s office announced that a Texas university and an organization called the Assembly of Friends of Azerbaijan had agreed to work together on oil and gas research and education.

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