NATIONAL NEWS

House Ethics Committee will investigate Rep. Henry Cuellar after his federal indictment

May 29, 2024, 12:10 PM | Updated: 12:38 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Ethics Committee is opening an investigation into Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, after his indictment earlier this month on allegations of bribery, money laundering and working on behalf of a foreign government.

The committee said Wednesday that it voted unanimously to take the rare step of pursuing an investigation into Cuellar, 68, while he and his wife remain under investigation by the Department of Justice over the couple’s ties to the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.

“The Committee is aware of the risks associated with dual investigations and is in communication with the Department of Justice to mitigate the potential risks while still meeting the Committee’s obligations to safeguard the integrity of the House,” said the chair, Rep. Michael Guest, R-Miss., and ranking member, Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., said in a statement.

Cuellar, in a statement to The Associated Press, said he respects the committee’s work. He said he is “innocent of these allegations, and everything I have done in Congress has been to serve the people of South Texas.”

House and committee rules require that within 30 days of a member being indicted or formally charged, the committee shall either establish an investigative subcommittee to look into the allegations or publicly report its reasons for not doing so.

Guest and Rep. Glenn Ivy, D-Md., will lead the review of Cuellar. The committee cautioned in its statement that opening an investigation does not mean that the lawmaker has violated House rules.

Culler is the third lawmaker to face a federal indictment since the current congressional session began in January. He has said that he and his wife, Imelda Cuellar, 67, “are innocent of these allegations.”

In a statement in early May, Cuellar said that before he 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.”

The indictment against the couple states that from 2014 to 2021, they accepted nearly $600,000 in bribes from an Azerbaijan-controlled energy company and a bank in Mexico, and in exchange, Cuellar agreed to advance the interests of the country and the bank in the United States.

Among other things, Cuellar agreed to influence legislation favorable to Azerbaijan and deliver a pro-Azerbaijan speech on the floor of the House, according to the indictment.

In addition to bribery and conspiracy, Cuellar and his wife face charges including wire fraud conspiracy, acting as agents of foreign principals and money laundering. If convicted, they face up to decades in prison and forfeiture of any property linked to proceeds from the alleged scheme.

National News

Associated Press

Southern New Mexico wildfire leads to evacuation of village of 7,000

RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) — Residents of a village in southern New Mexico were ordered to flee their homes Monday without taking time to grab any belongings due to a fast-moving wildfire. “GO NOW: Do not attempt to gather belongings or protect your home. Evacuate immediately,” officials with Ruidoso, a village home to 7,000 people, said […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Convicted killer of California college student Kristin Smart ordered to pay $350k in restitution

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) — A California judge ruled Monday that a man convicted of killing 19-year-old college student Kristin Smart in 1996 must pay just over $350,000 to her family for costs they incurred after her death. Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe ordered Paul Flores to make the payments after a […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Central African Republic faces increased rebel activity and spillover from Sudan war, UN experts say

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Activities of armed groups in the volatile Central African Republic have increased, complicating a security landscape that has seen a spillover of the conflict in neighboring Sudan, U.N. experts warn in a new report. The panel of experts cite confirmed reports of air raids by the Sudanese military around border areas […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

A judge temporarily blocks Iowa law that allows authorities to charge people facing deportation

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked an Iowa law that allowed law enforcement in the state to file criminal charges against people with outstanding deportation orders or who previously had been denied entry to the U.S. U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Locher issued a preliminary injunction because he said […]

11 hours ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear a challenge to governor’s 400-year school funding veto

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear a challenge to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ partial veto that locked in a school funding increase for the next 400 years, the justices announced Monday. The Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Litigation Center filed a lawsuit in April arguing the governor exceeded his authority. The group […]

12 hours ago

House Ethics Committee will investigate Rep. Henry Cuellar after his federal indictment