Texas Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar Charged With Accepting Massive Bribes From Azerbaijan

News & Politics

Rep. Henry Cuellar has been one of the only Democrats in Congress to speak out against Joe Biden’s border policies. Now, the Justice Department has charged the congressman and his wife Imelda with accepting $600,000 in bribes, money laundering, and other charges.

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The indictment reveals a good, old-fashioned “pay for play” scheme with Cuellar doing various favors for the Azerbaijan government in exchange for cash and looping in a corrupt Mexican bank for a cut.

Cuellar “agreed to perform official acts in his capacity as a Member of Congress, to commit acts in violation of his official duties, and to act as an agent of the Government of Azerbaijan” and the bank, the indictment says.

Cuellar says he’s innocent.

“Everything I have done in Congress has been to serve the people of South Texas,” Cuellar said. “Before I took 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.”

That may be. But he sure didn’t act like the actions he took on behalf of Azerbaijan were on the up and up.

The couple received payments from Azerbaijan through a Texas-based shell company owned by Imelda Cuellar and her two children, according to the indictment. The $25,000 a month was paid out under a “sham contract” in exchange for “unspecified consulting services” according to the Associated Press.

“In reality, the contract was a sham used to disguise and legitimate the corrupt agreement between Henry Cuellar and the government of Azerbaijan,” the indictment states.

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Imelda Cuellar would send a false invoice to the Washington office of the Azerbaijani energy company stating the work she contracted for was complete.

“In fact, Imelda Cuellar had performed little or no legitimate work under the contract,” the indictment says.

The indictment also alleges an Azerbaijani diplomat referred to Henry Cuellar in text messages as “el Jefe” or “boss,” and also that a member of Cuellar’s staff sent multiple emails to officials at the Department of State pressuring them to renew a U.S. passport for an Azerbaijani diplomat’s daughter.

Cuellar was at one time the co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus.

The FBI searched the congressman’s house in the border city of Laredo in 2022, and Cuellar’s attorney at that time said Cuellar was not the target of that investigation. That search was part of a broader investigation related to Azerbaijan that saw FBI agents serve a raft of subpoenas and conduct interviews in Washington, D.C., and Texas, a person with direct knowledge of the probe previously told The Associated Press. The person was not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Cuellar also agreed to a series of straight-up “pay for play” agreements with Azerbaijan.

CNN:

Among those promises, prosecutors allege Cuellar agreed to influence US policy through a “series of legislative measures relating to Azerbaijan’s conflict with neighboring Armenia,” by giving a pro-Azerbaijani speech on the House floor, inserting language “favored by Azerbaijan” into legislation and committee reports, and advocating for “series of legislative measures relating to Azerbaijan’s conflict with neighboring Armenia.”

The Texas Democrat also allegedly promised to influence financial regulations in a way that would benefit the Mexican bank and its affiliates, including by working to pressure the Executive Branch on anti-money laundering enforcement practices that “threatened” their business interest and supporting revisions to the criminal money-laundering statutes.

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According to the Corruption Index of Transparency International, Azerbaijan is ranked 153 out of 180 nations. Cuellar was in bed with some very bad people.

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