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Indictment Threatens Henry Cuellar, But Could His Political Ties Save Him?

Last Friday, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar and his wife were indicted on conspiracy and bribery charges, but he still plans to run for re-election. Could his political ties in South Texas save him?

The congressman’s legal troubles began in 2022, just weeks before a tough primary battle against progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros. Despite facing allegations at the time, Cuellar secured victory in both the primary runoff and general election. 

Now, Cuellar and his wife are accused of accepting nearly $600,000 in bribes from an oil company owned by the government of Azerbaijan and from a Mexican bank, owned by the country’s third-richest person. The couple faces charges of money laundering, conspiracy to commit bribery of a federal official, wire fraud, and others.

Despite the legal cloud hanging over him, Cuellar quickly declared his intention to seek re-election. His decision, however, has sparked calls for his resignation from Republicans and frustration from progressives who had criticized the Democratic Party’s support for him when the first allegations surfaced in 2022.

Still, Cuellar continues to enjoy staunch support from allies in his South Texas district, where his deep roots and political connections run strong. Local leaders, including Starr County Judge Eloy Vera, emphasize the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” in rallying behind Cuellar.

Vera said Cuellar is conscientious about the county’s needs and has been available to people any time they call.

“He’s delivered. I’ve got nothing but praise for that man,” Vera told The Texas Tribune.

With nearly two decades of representing District 28 and a deep reservoir of local support, Cuellar’s influence in South Texas politics is significant. He is known as one of the most moderate Democrats in Congress and has been able to work with both Democrats and Republicans.

“I think the record is going to show that he’s historically been very, very valuable,”. Webb County Democratic Party Chair Sylvia Bruni sayd. “He’s managed to work on both sides of the aisle which is something he takes great pride in.”

But the indictment has injected uncertainty into the political landscape, with swing voters expected to play a decisive role in Cuellar’s electoral fate come November.

Jay Furman and Lazaro Garza, the Republicans who will face off in a runoff in hopes of challenging Cuellar in the general election, have both denounced the Democrat for his indictment.

“There is no place for corruption in Congress!” Garza wrote on Facebook.

Cuellar, meanwhile, has maintained his innocence.

“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,” he said in a statement.

Staff
Staff
Written by RA News staff.

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