House Ethics Committee To Probe Henry Cuellar

House Ethics Committee To Probe Henry Cuellar

( – Like Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and his wife, Nadine, the Justice Department (DOJ) has indicted Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and his wife, Imelda, on several charges related to bribery and acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Now, lawmakers are launching a probe into Cuellar as well.

The indictment, unsealed by the DOJ on May 3, accuses Cuellar and his wife of engaging in bribery schemes. The two allegedly created sham contracts paid through shell companies owned by Mrs. Cuellar. The bribes totaled approximately $600,000, which came from Mexico and Azerbaijan. In return for the money, Cuellar reportedly agreed to use his position as a US congressman to influence foreign policy in favor of an Azerbaijan oil company and a Mexican bank. Federal prosecutors charged the couple with 14 counts, and the Cuellars pleaded not guilty to all of them. If convicted, they face more than 100 years in prison.

In addition to the federal charges, Cuellar is facing a House Ethics Committee investigation into the crimes. On Wednesday, May 29, the chairman, Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS), and Ranking Member Susan Wild (D-PA) issued a joint statement outlining the Ethics Committee’s obligation and then announcing they would be setting up a subcommittee and opening a probe into Cuellar. The investigation will “determine whether Rep. Cuellar solicited or accepted bribes, gratuities or improper gifts” or more in his role as congressman regarding foreign interests.

Guest will act as the subcommittee chair, with Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-MD) as the ranking member. Reps. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) and Ben Cline (R-VA) will round out the sub-committee as the other two members.

Cuellar issued his own statement on the matter, saying he respects the committee’s obligation and work. He said he was “innocent of these allegations.”

Cuellar’s case is eerily reminiscent of Menendez’s. The senator and two of his business associates are on trial in Manhattan. His wife’s trial, delayed due to health issues, will begin later this summer.

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