Democrat U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar has been indicted on bribery and money laundering charges.

The Department of Justice’s announcement follows a January 2022 raid on his home and campaign office in Laredo.

According to a statement from the Department of Justice:

Henry Cuellar and his wife Imelda Cuellar allegedly accepted approximately $600,000 in bribes from two foreign entities: an oil and gas company wholly owned and controlled by the Government of Azerbaijan, and a bank headquartered in Mexico City. Bribe payments were allegedly laundered, pursuant to sham consulting contracts, through a series of front companies and middlemen into shell companies owned by Imelda Cuellar, who performed little to no legitimate work under the contracts. 

In exchange for the bribes paid by the Azerbaijani oil and gas company, Congressman Cuellar allegedly agreed to use his office to influence U.S. foreign policy in favor of Azerbaijan. In exchange for the bribes paid by the Mexican bank, Congressman Cuellar allegedly agreed to influence legislative activity and to advise and pressure high-ranking U.S. Executive Branch officials regarding measures beneficial to the bank. 

Notably, Cuellar has previously served as the co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus. If convicted, Cuellar could be sentenced to decades in prison.

Before the indictment was unsealed on Friday, Cuellar denied any wrongdoing:

I want to be clear that both my wife and I are innocent of these allegations. Everything I have done in Congress has been to serve the people of South Texas. Before I took any action, I proactively sought legal advice from the House Ethics Committee, who gave me more than one written opinion, along with an additional opinion from a national law firm. The actions I took in Congress were consistent with the actions of many of my colleagues and in the interest of the American people. Furthermore, we requested a meeting with the Washington DC prosecutors to explain the facts, and they refused to discuss the case with us or to hear our side.

Cuellar, who has served in Congress since 2005, said the indictment would not affect his plans for re-election.

“Let me be clear, I’m running for re-election and will win this November,” said Cuellar.

Cuellar is being challenged by Republican candidate Jay Furman in the November election.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens